The government has proposed a ‘root and branch’ review of the Mental Health Act 1983 to be conducted by the end of 1999. The aim of the study was to establish the views of general and forensic psychiatrists as to the adequacy of present legislative provision for England and Wales. The study was carried out by postal survey.
The response rates were 82%, for forensic psychiatrists and 67%, for general psychiatrists. Most respondents considered most of present provision satisfactory. Areas considered in need of amendment were: the term ‘psychopathic disorder’; the requirement for an offence punishable by imprisonment before a hospital order can be made, provision for remands to hospital and the loss of clinical independence consequent upon the making of a restriction order.
Forensic psychiatrists seem more willing than general psychiatrists to see their clinical discretion limited by the courts. Most of the suggestions were for changes to individual aspects of the present legislation rather than radical reform.
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