Supervised community treatment and section 17 of the Mental Health Act 1983

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On 17 November 2006 the government announced its plan to introduce a Bill to make a range of amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983. Two conditions need to be fulfilled to facilitate continuous treatment in the community. First, there has to be a mechanism to ensure that a patient participates in their treatment while they remain in the community. Second, there must be a way to ensure continuity of this without interfering with the patients' status in the community. Section 17 of the Mental Health Act 1983 allows the responsible medical officer (RMO) to give a detained patient leave of absence from hospital, subject to conditions the RMO deems necessary. There has been extensive debate within British and international psychiatry about compulsory treatment in the community. The legal framework for the supervised treatment of patients while they remain largely in the community already exists within the provisions of section 17. Attempts to use legislation to patch-up deficiencies in service provision are likely to lead to undesired consequences. Restriction of liberty without the reciprocal provision of adequate care and support could result in eroding patients' self-determination and dignity and might deter them from future contact with psychiatric services. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).




Owino, A. (2007, July). Supervised community treatment and section 17 of the Mental Health Act 1983. Psychiatric Bulletin.

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