Hft responds to the announcement of draft legislation to reform the Mental Health Act

2022-05-10 17:06:15

Following today’s State Opening of Parliament, Kirsty Matthews, CEO of learning disabilities charity Hft, has responded to the announcement of draft legislation to reform the Mental Health Act as follows:

“We welcome the announcement that the Mental Health Act will be reformed.

“At present, people with a learning disability and/or autism can be admitted to in-patient units under the Act, even if they don’t have a mental health condition. Learning disabilities and autism are not mental health conditions, and the removal of this definition from the Act should go some way to reducing the number of people being unnecessarily detained in in-patient units.

“However, if the Government is truly committed to ‘transforming care’, they must go further by getting the care right and ensuring everyone with a learning disability and/or autism has his or her support needs met and can live where and how they want to. This would play a vital part in drastically reducing any inappropriate admissions to in-patient units in the first place.

“There are currently more than 2,000 people with a learning disability/autism trapped in in-patient settings, where the average time spent is 5.6 years. We want to see a significant reduction in any inappropriate admissions to in-patient units and a commitment to provide the resources to ensure people are discharged in a timely manner. People with a learning disability and/or autism should be able to live with the support they need, where they want and to be closer to family and friends.

“Today’s Speech also included an announcement on a new Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act.

“The new Bill will give UK judges more freedom to diverge from European court of human rights rulings, many of which provide an important protection for the rights of people with a learning disability. We wait in eager anticipation to see the detail of this Bill, and urge the Government to build in appropriate safeguards so the rights of people with a learning disability are not undermined.

“People with a learning disability deserve to live without fear of being inappropriately detained and to have their rights protected. It is vital that the draft legislation announced today only furthers these aims, and does not jeopardise them.”

Notes to editors

For further information please phone 0117 906 1697 or email media.enquiries@hft.org.uk

About Hft

Hft is a national charity that creatively supports more than 2,200 adults with learning disabilities across England and Wales to live the best life possible. Services range from residential care to supporting people to live independently in their own homes – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.

Established in 1962, Hft is funded in two ways: through local authorities, who fund vital support services, but also through donors, supporters and volunteers who enable us to find new ways to help more people to thrive rather than just get by.

For more information about Hft please visit www.hft.org.uk