House of Commons Library

Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill 2017-19

Published Thursday, November 2, 2017

This House of Commons Library briefing provides information on key provisions in the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill 2017-19. This is a Private Member's Bill which is seeking to make provision about the oversight and management of the use of force in relation to patients in mental health units.

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Steve Reed MP presented the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill on 19 July 2017, having come second in the Private Members’ Bill ballot. This briefing has been prepared in advance of the Bill’s second reading on 3 November 2017.

The Bill makes provision about the oversight and management of the use of force in relation to patients in mental health units and similar settings.

The Bill would introduce statutory requirements in relation to the use of force in mental health units. It would require service providers to keep a record of any use of force, have a written policy for the use of force, commit to a reduction in the use of force, and provide patients with information about their rights.

The Bill would require a provider to notify the Secretary of State for Health, within seven days, of a death that occurred during, or as a result of, a patient being subject to the use of force whilst in a mental health unit. On being notified of such a death, the Secretary of State would be required to appoint an independent person to investigate the death and produce a report.

It would also place a new duty on the Secretary of State to produce an annual report on the use of force at mental health units during each calendar year. At present, data is not routinely published on this.

The Bill also makes provision about the use of body cameras worn by police officers who attend mental health units for any reason.

Steve Reed MP introduced the Bill after a constituent, Olaseni Lewis, died in a mental health unit. The patient had been physically restrained by police officers. Mr Reed said:

Seni Lewis was a young man from Thornton Heath with his whole life ahead of him. But he died after his parents took him to hospital for help when he showed signs of mental ill health. Instead of receiving the care and understanding he needed, he was subject to severe physical restraint by 11 police officers until he stopped breathing. I want Parliament to pass Seni’s Law to make sure the serious mistakes that led to Seni’s death can never happen to anyone else.

The Bill will apply to England only.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8088

Authors: Elizabeth Parkin; Pat Strickland

Topics: Health services, Mental health, Patient rights and complaints, Police

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