Friday, November 24, 2006

Lock 'em up (revisited)

The Queen's Speech announced the introduction of a Bill to provide a better framework for treating people with mental disorders. The government are intent on reviving the previously axed and heavily criticised Mental Health Bill. It's the return of the thorny questions of diagnosis, compulsion and some rather dubious 'treatments.'

The current Mental Health Act (1983) enables specified professionals to treat people without their consent. The Government now wants to make changes to extend and simplify this process.

The Bill seems to be motivated and promoted by a prejudice that connects mental illness with violence and the need to protect the public. In fact 95% of all killings have no connection to people with mental illnesses. They are mostly the result of drugs and alcohol, but plans have not been proposed to affect the liberty of Friday night boozers. Instead a marginalised and stigmatised section of the population is being targetted.

Currently compulsory treatment can only occur in hospital. The government wants to extend this into the community. So called 'psychiatric ASBOs' will be enforced, the conditions of which may include residency, appointments, medication and 'conduct.' These conditions would not be subject to independent review.

This proposal to restrict the movement and activities of patients in the community has been condemned by mental health workers. Rethink's campaign manager, Jane Harris, said that curfews and banning visits to pubs were completely unworkable. Tony Zigmond, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, saw the enforcement or monitoring of the conditions being the main problem. He said, 'It's a monitoring exercise that doctors and nurses should not be doing.'

But the main problem is the lack of independent review.

The 1983 Act states that compulsory treatment must help a patient's condition, or prevent it getting worse, this is the treatability clause. The Government wishes to change this to allow treatment that is ‘appropriate’ and ‘available’ i.e. remove treatability as a criterion. The judgement of what is ‘appropriate’ is a subjective one rather than objective, and could include measures to control rather than cure. People with untreatable personality disorders could therefore be compulsorily detained whether they've committed a criminal act or not.

Health services exist to help people with their health, not to control them. Tony Calland, chairman of the British Medical Association's medical ethics committee said, 'Mental health legislation cannot be used to detain people whom the authorities simply want locked away.'

At the moment, two doctors and a social worker are required to make the decision to treat someone without their consent. This is by definition a position of considerable power and responsibility, where the control over another's life is taken. The government's intention is to empower a wider range of healthcare professionals to take these decisions. There is considerable concern that there are insufficient numbers of suitably trained and qualified people for this change to be made.

Treatment without consent can now only be given if a person has a ‘mental disorder’. Again the government wants to expand the definition of mental disorder. This, if used widely, could conceivably include immoral conduct, promiscuity, anti-social or eccentric behaviour and different political or cultural beliefs. Once detained and forcibly treated, that person must wait 6 months until they have a right to have their case reviewed by a Tribunal.

Sources of Information;

Dept. of Health:

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Farewell to Old Dunscroft

If you are anywhere in the vicinity next Sunday, get yourself to this, and give Dave Douglass the send off he deserves.

Farewell to Old Dunscroft.

Dave Douglass is leaving Dunscroft and the Doncaster coalfield after forty years.

A farewell to Donny and Old Dunscroft and the pit has been planned to take place at The Woolpack, Market Place, Doncaster on 26 November 2006 at 3:45 pm.

Neighbours, Marra's, friends and comrades from the union, the pit, politics and the community are welcome to attend the official bon voyage as Dave heads back to Bonny Tyneside for pastures new and revisited.

There will be a special showing of "Where Do I Stand ?", a TV Documentary about Dave and his politics made in 1970 and obviously before the age of 'political correctness' ! This documentary features Hatfield pit and the surrounding villages and some of the characters.

The acclaimed Rotherham folk band 'Toe-In'The Dark' with singer songwriter Ray Hearne will be appearing, as well as other guest singers who may volunteer.

Guests will be invited to join in and tell us some stories and tales and hopefully a buffet will be provided.

So don't forget!

The Woolpack, Market Place, Doncaster, from about 3:45 pm.26th November 2006. Formal programme finishes at 8 pm but folk are welcome to carry on.

All past grudges and disputes to be left at home please, and no riding horses up and down the stairs !

Thursday, November 16, 2006

lock 'em up

If they can't get you with one law, there's always another.....................

Tony Calland, chairman of the British Medical Association's medical ethics committee said, 'Mental health legislation cannot be used to detain people whom the authorities simply want locked away.'

However, the government are now intent on reviving the previously axed Mental Health Bill. The legislation would allow the detention of people with untreatable personality disorders - whether they've committed a criminal act or not. The draft Bill proposed that people so detained could be held for 28 days before facing a tribunal, i.e. 28 days locked away and forcibly medicated until they could formally oppose their detention.

Jane Harris, Rethink mental health charity, concluded, ' will mean people with mental health problems have fewer rights than someone suspected of burglaries.'

But there is a more disturbing aspect to this for everyone. Can those who make the diagnoses be trusted, and is it possible to safeguard against abuse of the system? If the state's procedure and practice in its execution of terror legislation is anything to go by.........we have a problem.

I'll be there - what will you be doing?

Thatcher, frail and feeble in mind and body - it can't be long now.