The final report of the Scoping Study Committee (Richardson Committee) reviewing the Mental Health Act 1983 is eagerly awaited. All psychiatrists, either individually or through the College, had an opportunity to express their views on what changes in legislation are needed and to comment on the draft proposals (Scoping Study Committee, 1999). Many psychiatrists did neither. Yet to use modem terminology, psychiatrists are one of the major ‘stakeholders' of mental health legislation. A valuable way of ascertaining colleagues' views in a structured way is by surveys of the type conducted by Buchanan & Gunn (1999, this issue). Given that the Richardson Committee has yet to publish proposals for ‘Part III’ the survey is timely. The response rate is, of course, very important and one is left wondering why a third of the general and community psychiatrists did not respond. Work load, burn-out or lack of familiarity with Part III of the Act are possible explanations.
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