Dr Maden’s commentary on…‘The Draft Mental Health Bill in England: without principles’ (Psychiatric Bulletin, July 2005, 29, 250-251) is dismissive of ‘liberal hysteria’ and suggests that therapeutic intent is a peripheral issue to use of mental health law. The perspective of someone viewing the issues from a tertiary service probably explains the failure to understand the ramifications that the proposed Bill will have on the population as a whole. The ability of general adult services to select in-patients on the basis of need or evidence of effectiveness would be paralysed. General psychiatric hospitals will return to the dark days of having a primary social control function. Apart from the ethical considerations of using a hospital as a prison, does anyone really believe this legislation will lead to better protection of the public? We are looking in the wrong legislative direction for solutions to this.
Dr Maden’s commentary concludes by suggesting that our current mental health legislation is among the best and most liberal in the world in the way in which it deals with offenders with mental illness. Why on earth, then, are we proposing to change it?