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EthicsContemporary challenges in health and social care$
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Audrey Leathard and Susan McLaren

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781861347558

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861347558.001.0001

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Mental health: safe, sound and supportive?1

Mental health: safe, sound and supportive?1

(p.243) Seventeen Mental health: safe, sound and supportive?1

Jon Glasby

Helen Lester

Emily McKie

Policy Press

This chapter examines the contested nature of mental health provision within the context of proposed legislative changes, exploring the key ethical dilemmas that are raised. It discusses the proposed changes to the 1983 Mental Health Act, and the resulting practical and ethical dilemmas they raise for frontline practitioners in health and social services, service users, and indeed for wider society. The chapter then considers the 2004 Draft Mental Health Bill, which raises significant ethical issues with regard to autonomy, beneficence, and individual liberty. It is argued that the proposed changes to the 1983 Mental Health Act are focused on risk and public safety rather than on the health and welfare of those people whose decision making is impaired by reason of their mental disorder. The 2004 Draft Mental Health Bill is also out of step with other current relevant government policy initiatives in this area, particularly the choice agenda, which risks disadvantaging people with mental health problems relative to other patient groups.

Keywords:   social care policy, health care policy, Mental Health Act, Mental Health Bill, public safety, patient choice

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