News story

New Mental Health Act code of practice

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A revised code of practice for the Mental Health Act 1983 provides guidance for professionals.

The code shows professionals how to carry out their roles and responsibilities under the Mental Health Act 1983, to ensure that all patients receive high quality and safe care.

There have been significant changes in legislation, case law, policy and professional practice since the last code was published in 2008.

The revised code aims to provide stronger protection for patients and clarify roles, rights and responsibilities. This includes:

  • involving the patient and, where appropriate, their families and carers in discussions about the patient’s care at every stage
  • providing personalised care
  • minimising the use of inappropriate blanket restrictions, restrictive interventions and the use of police cells as places of safety.

The main changes to the code include:

  • 5 new guiding principles
  • new chapters on care planning, human rights, equality and health inequalities
  • consideration of when to use the Mental Health Act and when to use the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and information to support victims
  • new sections on physical health care, blanket restrictions, duties to support patients with dementia and immigration detainees
  • significantly updated chapters on the appropriate use of restrictive interventions, particularly seclusion and long-term segregation, police powers and places of safety
  • further guidance on how to support children and young people, those with a learning disability or autism.

The new code will come into force on 1 April 2015, subject to Parliamentary approval.

The government consulted widely on the revised code, receiving almost 350 responses. See consultation response.