I think I’ve worked hard this year – managed to write a couple of hundred blog posts and put out tens of thousands of tweets to raise awareness within the police and beyond of various aspects of this stuff I’m interested in. As a result of the profile it has all gained, I have been invited to do some amazingly interesting stuff. I’ve been asked to give lectures at various universities to trainee paramedics and mental health professionals of all kinds and I’ve done this stuff in my own time and at my own expense in the hope of making a difference because none of this stuff is actually my job. I gave evidence to the Independent Commission led by Lord ADEBOWALE, my work was mentioned twice in the Parliamentary debate on policing and mental health and I was invited to present at next year’s International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London.
So if you think I’ve been a good boy, I’d like to ask for the following things for Christmas!
- Please remove the words “police station” from s135(6) of the Mental Health Act
- Please remove the words “place to which the public have access” from s136(1) MHA.
- Please provide a power of entry without warrant for use in connection with ss18, 136 and 138 MHA.
- Banish s135 MHA to the history books.
- Please change the timescale “72hrs” to “6hrs” in s136(2) MHA – if this is too much for your elves, I’ll settle for 12hrs.
- Please ensure that s140 of the Mental Health Act is given real weight by making it an explicit duty on those hospitals specified under this provision to maintain contingency beds for urgent admissions and ensure a duty to admit patients where applications are made.
- Please allow Magistrates to remand someone to hospital after their first appearance in court, under ss35/6 MHA.
- Please insert into the Mental Health Act and the Code of Practice specific requirements around equality of access to healthcare for people suffering from mental disorders.
In addition —
- Please can all police officers be sent on a one-week mental health training course? I could even write the syllabus to save your elves some time?! (Actually, it’s written already!)
- Can parts of that training please be multi-agency with colleagues from the ambulance service, mental health and social care services as well as GPs and A&E – and led by service users?
- Can we have legal tests and scenarios to ensure that frontline professionals understand the laws that govern the interface between policing and mental health?
- Can you please give the police service and emergency services the gift of an operating culture whereby professionals living with mental health problems feel encouraged to seek support and feel that they get it when they ask for it?
- There are well over 1,500 senior officers in policing and 2,500 frontline clinical staff in my local ambulance service: statistics alone suggest that several hundred people in each of those groups them will have experienced mental health problems during their lives.
- Can you arrange to write into law, something meaningful and enforceable about parity of esteem and access to services for people experiencing mental health problems.
- Please ensure that CCG commissioners think about the reality of the mental health work they commission and contemplate the predictable need to coerce passively resistant, but medically vulnerable people in the community.
- Can you make sure that the CQC point out the nonsense of denying children access to place of safety services (because they’re not age appropriate) and then closing those very faciltiies to 136 detentions because it has been necessary to turn that 136 suite into an emergency CAMHS bed for a child!
Oh … and can I please have an Terry’s chocolate orange and some brazil nuts and can you please deliver a small Christmas card from me into the stocking of all relevant professionals in the NHS wishing them well in this Yule Tide season and reminding them that A&E absolutely *is* a place of safety where that is the appropriate clinical location for someone to be. 😉
Winner of the Mind Digital Media Award.