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Scottish health minister Sam Galbraith has announced a major review of mental health legislation for Scotland. ...
Scottish health minister Sam Galbraith has announced a major review of mental health legislation for Scotland.

A new committee will assess the current Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 to ensure that the legislative framework supports the wide-ranging service developments now underway in this field.

The committee will be chaired by Bruce Millan, former Scottish secretary and EC commissioner, and will report to ministers of the Scottish parliament by summer 2000.

Mr Galbraith said:

'The delivery of high-quality mental health services is one of the three priorities we have set for the NHS in Scotland. We must ensure that these services, for some of the most vulnerable patients in our community, provide care that is suited to their needs and to tackling their particular disorder.

'We are making good progress in developing a range of services for people with mental disorders. The Mental Health Framework for Scotland, launched last year, aims to assist staff in health, social work and housing agencies to develop a joint approach to the planning, commissioning and provision of mental health services. I am pleased that all the bodies are pulling together effectively in this vital work.

'But it is just as important that we have the correct legislative framework in place to support these developments. I am announcing a review of the main Scottish mental health legislation, the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984. I will set up a new committee to review the 1984 Act, and I am pleased to announce that Bruce Millan has agreed to chair it.

'The 1984 Act was brought in at a time when most patients with a mental disorder were treated in hospital. Much has changed since then. New treatments and practices have become available which mean that many such people can be successfully looked after while living in the


'I would like the committee to make recommendations for any changes required to the legislation to ensure that it provides an effective support for the care and treatment of people with mental disorder. It must take account of their needs, the need of their carers, their families, and the wider public.

'I intend that the committee will be made up of representatives of all key interests involved in the care and treatment of people with mental

disorder. And I will ensure that the interests and needs of users of mental health services, their carers, and the public are taken into account as the review progresses.'


1. The terms of reference for the committee and the membership will be announced shortly. This committee will report on their recommendations by summer 2000.

2. Any legislation which results from the recommendations will be for consideration by the Scottish Parliament.

3. The Mental Health (Scotland) Act is the main legislation relating to the care and treatment of people with mental disorder. It allows for the compulsory detention and treatment in hospital of people with a mental disorder if such treatment cannot be provided in the community.

4. In September of this year, Frank Dobson announced that Genevra Richardson would chair a study group into the corresponding legislation in England and Wales - the Mental Health Act 1983.

5. Bruce Millan was an MP in Glasgow and served as secretary of state for Scotland from 1976-79. He was an EC commissioner from 1989-95. He presently serves on the board of the Scottish Association for Mental Health, and is convenor of Children in Scotland.

6. The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland takes its powers to protect the interests of people with mental disorders from the 1984 Act.

7. The Framework for Mental Health Services in Scotland was launched in September 1997.

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