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Jackie Doyle-Price MP: Back 'Seni’s law' today to minimise the use of force in mental health settings

Jackie Doyle-Price MP: Back 'Seni’s law' today to minimise the use of force in mental health settings
2 min read

"This Bill signifies an important social reform", writes Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities Jackie Doyle-Price.

Today I hope the House of Commons will approve a bill which strengthens the rights and protection of those receiving treatment for their mental health.

Not only that, I hope it will strengthen faith, trust and accountability in those we entrust with their safety.

The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, presented by Steve Reed and backed by members from across the House, seeks to ensure that what should be the safest places in the country for people with mental health problems – our mental health hospitals – stay that way.

As Steve Reed has written before this Bill has come about from the tragic death of 23 year old Seni Lewis. 

Seni, experiencing acute mental distress, died in a secure mental health facility – a place where he and his family had a right for him to receive protection and support, no matter how difficult the circumstances.

Indeed, considering what happened, Seni’s family has been incredibly dignified and I was privileged to meet his parents who have campaigned so vigorously and tirelessly for this change in the law.  Their determination to ensure that other families do not have to suffer as they have is truly inspiring.

So, what will this bill do if it passes into law? This law seeks to minimise the use of force in mental health settings. To deliver this, it will require all mental health units to have a nominated person responsible for ensuring that they have policy and training programmes in place on the use of force.

It establishes the requirements for recording and reporting use of force in the unit. It will also require police officers to wear body camera when attending a mental health unit to assist NHS staff wherever reasonably practicable. In short, it will bring more transparency into mental health units.

This bill signifies an important social reform and I thank all those who have helped to progress it to this stage. If approved today, it will then progress to the House of Lords.

Jackie Doyle-Price is the Minister for Mental Health and Inequalities

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