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RCN hails mental health changes

The Government hopes changes to planned mental health laws will help resolve a long-running row over the detention of mentally ill people who have not committed a crime.

Health minister Rosie Winterton has unveiled amendments to the Mental Health Bill to ease fears that teenagers will be treated on adult wards, and that psychiatrists will be allowed to dictate where patients live and what they do.

But she insists the Government will not back down, despite a string of defeats in the House of Lords, on plans to allow doctors to issue supervised community treatment orders (CTOs) requiring mentally ill offenders to attend appointments and take their medication after release.

And she claims amendments approved by the Lords, and backed by Conservative leader David Cameron, will result in doctors being forced to refuse to treat some suicidal patients unless they commit further crimes or threaten people.

The Mental Health Coalition, which represents 85% of NHS mental health staff, welcomed the announcement on CTOs and is urging MPs to get behind the measures.

Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "The RCN has always maintained that CTOs should only apply to a carefully defined minority of patients meeting explicit criteria.

"This amendment helps to make the criteria for conditions clear and is a great step forward for the Bill."

Department of Health

Royal College of Nursing

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