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Mental Health Act needs to be reviewed

Dr Lynda Scott National Disability and Associate Health Spokesperson

18 February 2002

Mental Health Act needs to be reviewed

A review of the Privacy Act as it relates to mental health services is not enough to address the problems which put the public and families at risk, National's Disability Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said today.

"The Mental Health Commission's review is saying that the current legislation is fine but obviously it is not strong enough because it is being ignored. It didn't work in the case of Malcolm Beggs and Mark Burton.

"Annette King is finally being pushed to acknowledge there are problems because they have been highlighted by desperate families and the Opposition.

"National's 1999 amendment to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act which made it mandatory to consult families, is being ignored and still does not give enough of a voice to the families and the community who are involved with those who have a mental health disability.

"It is ironic that the Minister accepts the Privacy Act is being used to stop families help make decisions about mental health patients, when she has happily allowed mental health patients to be moved from Hillmorton Hospital without their families knowing and without patients being assessed for discharge.

"The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act has failed some patients and this is why we said last year that it needed to be reviewed. The Government should immediately instigate a review. National's policy will be to review the Act," Dr Lynda Scott said.


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