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Mental Health Trumps

January 7, 2014

There’s been a lot of activity in a couple of groups I belong to, the last few days, and a familiar theme seems to be emerging again – the belief that the Mental Health Act trumps the Mental Capacity Act, and how decisions are made about our vulnerable adults in order to get them under the scope of the MHA.

There’s an awful case happening in Wales at the moment, that has terrible echoes of Steven’s case. In this case, the LA want to move a young autistic woman from Swansea to a “specialist autism unit” four hours away from the family home. They have put the young woman under section and that seems to have stopped all reasonable analysis on whether the decision is right, or in the person’s best interests. When the family tried to challenge this and started talking in terms of the MCA, they were told the “MHA trumps the MCA”. Is that true?

There is a real irony here because back in 2010, Hillingdon wanted to send Steven under section to a hospital in Wales because it was the one that “best matched the specifications from our tendering process”. We’ll overlook the fact that all this “tendering” talk is actually about a human being and not a crate of fish. The irony is that Steven and this young lady could have passed each other on the motorway as they were “conveyed” (another new word I’ve learned this week for the Carespeak book) to their specialist units.

I don’t believe a word of it – I think it’s just a way of getting people with costly care packages moved off the books and onto someone else’s books. I’m not saying for one moment that people with autism can’t have mental health problems – they are as prone as anyone. But I cannot stand the way autism and an autistic person’s behaviours and feelings are automatically fed through a mental health machine by some. I had a real sense of embarrassment yesterday when I was talking to an old friend about the latest report from Steven’s psychiatrist. My friend asked: “What’s he doing being under a psychiatrist anyway and does he need medication?” Two awkward, yet straight forward questions and the answer to them is Q1 = Don’t know and Q2 = Probably not. The report reports “I was not able to find any evidence of mental illness at present” and “I was not able to find any evidence of self harming behaviour”. I could have told her that and yet here we are, trapped in the mental health system, within a review booked in for the end of March.

I’d hate to think that the authorities are now using the MHA as a way of avoiding the scrutiny that may be applied if the person came under the MCA. In our case, the judge criticised Hillingdon for abusing the MCA to get their own way” – surely the same thing can’t be happening with the MHA with people being shunted under its scope to achieve a pre-determined outcome.

The family in Wales has a long hard battle ahead. None of the professionals involved seem the slightest bit interested that both the young woman and the family are objecting to the move and stating quite clearly that she wants to live close to home, if not at home. I thought this was one of the big objectives of the Care minister – to get people back closer to their homes and their family ties. Feels like there is still a long way to go.


From → Social Care

  1. I think the authority will use whatever supports their view. In our case it was the MCA that was used to support their view…..

  2. Kay permalink

    Trumps is right. Lot of hot air, and it smells bad.

    • Pauline Thomas permalink

      Mark, the chasm between what the Care Minister says and what the Care Minister does is as wide as its ever been. When has rhetoric from these people ever matched the reality of what actually happens. He promised ‘to change the culture that treat them (people with LD) as second class citizens’, when he was being interviewed on radio4. He may well believe that he can do this, but until the government start reeling in all the LA’s who are using their powers to undermine carers and their loved ones, then it will just be empty rhetoric.

  3. anonymous permalink

    Sounds like Psychiatric Abuse, ask the family to contact CCHR……

  4. ellen P permalink

    California nurse who abused an autistic patient in his care. Just horrific. Michael Garritson, convicted of felony abuse of autistic man who can’t talk for himself.

  5. Is that music is beneficial for mental health problems?? check out the list of some illogical mental diseases.

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