Another reason why £9000 tuition is a bad idea

Effective legal aid is essential to the running mental health law. Anyone who works in the field knows that the considerable bulk of people admitted to psychiatric facilities have few if any assets; without effective legal aid they will not have effective representation. It is disturbing that no one appears to have given serious thought to the effect of high tuition fees on legal aid practice. Continue reading

What will the Care Quality Commission Performance and Capability Review mean for mental health services?

The Care Quality Commission has been in trouble for a while. Externally it has been under fire from the media for failing in big ways and in smaller ways. Internally it has struggled to deal with the demands of delivering a new streamlined regulatory model to ensure compliance across all ‘care’ settings in England, especially as it is fashioned from the remnants of three older regulatory bodies: the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission, bodies which themselves had diverse institutional histories and cultures.

So the publication today of the DH Performance and Capability Review is of great interest to anyone interested in standards in care for people with mental health needs in England. The report published is basic but a few conclusions are transparent: Continue reading

Mental Capacity and the Right to Make Stupid Decisions

Last month, a research team across the Universities of Bristol and Bradford and the Mental Health Foundation released their report into best interests decision-making under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA).  The MCA allows for (among other things) decisions to be made for an individual when that person is found to lack the capacity to make the decision for herself.  If the individual is found to lack capacity, then a decision can be made on her behalf in her ‘best interests’.  The research team looked at a great deal of aspects around this decision-making process, but I was particularly interested in their findings regarding the first step: determining capacity. Continue reading

Hospitals and iatrogenic harm

I spent a couple of nights in the medical assessment unit of my local hospital last year. I would not recommend the experience and the arguments about how hard it is to recover health in a typical hospital ward have been rehearsed before. The poor quality food, the problem of getting enough sleep, the lack of fresh air or natural light all make for a fairly unhealthy environment. Continue reading

Passionately meeting undoubted challenges together

This is not a post entirely about mental health or capacity law but since this topic has been doing the rounds of the human rights blogs I thought it was worth contributing to.

So the Prime Minister went to Strasbourg to give a much-hyped speech. It was far more heavily trailed than the speeches he subsequently gave at the World Economic Forum or the EU summit in the following week and a cynical person might infer that this hype was generated by Number 10. Continue reading