Mencap responds to the Joint Committee’s report on the Draft Mental Health Bill

Families have been torn apart and traumatised” 

Mencap responds to the Joint Committee’s report on the Government’s Draft Mental Health Bill

At least 2,000 people with a learning disability and/or autism are currently being detained in mental health hospitals under the Mental Health Act

  • Today, (19th January 2023), the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill has published a lengthy report scrutinising the draft Bill’s contents, with recommendations for the government. 
  • The Mental Health Bill, which should be introduced into parliament this year, must introduce essential changes to end the shocking and inappropriate detention of people with a learning disability and autistic people inside secure mental health hospitals. 
  • Today’s report also references ‘Building the Right Support’ – a national action plan from the Department of Health and Social Care to get people with a learning disability and/or autism out of mental health hospitals and provide them with the right social care support in the community.

Commenting on the Committee’s report, Dan Scorer, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“Keeping people with learning disabilities and autism locked up is Dickensian and barbaric, and we welcome the recommendations in today’s report. 

“There are currently around 2,000 people with a learning disability and/or autism locked away inside mental health hospitals – for an average of over five years – simply because there isn’t the adequate care available in the community to support their needs. 

“Families have been torn apart and traumatised, and the government has promised to end this practice time and time again. Their national ‘action plan’ to close these hospitals – Building the Right Support – should be a roadmap to provide credible and adequate care, but we agree with the Committee that it falls desperately short of what’s required and needs to be reviewed, with clear milestones to deliver change. 

“We need adequate funding and accountability for local authorities and Integrated Care Boards to build the community services that are so urgently needed. It’s unacceptable that people with a learning disability and autistic people can be sectioned under the Mental Health Act even if they don’t have a mental health problem.

“Mencap is calling for these vital reforms to be enshrined in law as soon as possible, to ensure this national scandal doesn’t continue in plain sight.”