EHRC Briefing - Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, Report and Third Reading, 15 June 2018

Posted On: 
14th June 2018

Below is the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s briefing on the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill in contribution to the upcoming Report and Third Reading debates on 15 June 2018.

The Commission considers that the Bill presents an important opportunity to ensure service providers meet their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights Act 1998, and protect the dignity and autonomy of those under their care. In particular, we welcome the broad definition of the use of force and the training, monitoring and reporting provisions. We think they will create a clearer understanding of the equality and rights issues in relation to the use of restraint in mental health units. The Bill, once enacted, should also facilitate conversations between service providers, patients and their families at a local level, and parliamentarians and civil society at a national level, about human rights based approaches to the use of restraint.

In this briefing, the Commission recommends support to amendments that will:

  • Guarantee the independence of investigations into deaths (New Clause 1)
  • Ensure that information provided to patients is understood by those with different access requirements (Amendment 2)
  • Ensure the annual report of the Secretary of State includes reference to statistics on the use of force disaggregated by patients’ protected characteristics and that the Secretary of State makes a statement before Parliament shortly after its publication (Amendments 82, 83, 84 and 85)

The briefing also sets out that the Commission would welcome future amendments to ensure that the requirement to record the relevant characteristics of a patient following the use of force under the Bill includes a record of gender reassignment status. The requirement to record the relevant characteristics of the patient in the Bill currently applies to every protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 except for gender reassignment, an omission which appears to be a simple technical error.

You can read the briefing in full here.