New Code of Practice for the Mental Health Act (1983)

The Department of Health is today launching a new Code of Practice for the Mental Health Act (1983). The new code guides professionals how to carry out their roles and responsibilities under the Mental Health Act 1983 and is an important tool to use, to ensure that all service users are treated legally.

Information can be gained from

The new code aims to provide stronger protection for patients and clarify roles, rights and responsibilities. This includes:

  • Involving the patient and, where appropriate, their families and carers in discussions about the patient’s care at every stage
  • Providing personalised care
  • Minimising the use of inappropriate blanket restrictions, restrictive interventions and the use of police cells as places of safety.

The main changes to the code include:

  • Five new guiding principles
  • New chapters on care planning, human rights, equality and health inequalities
  • Consideration of when to use the Mental Health Act and when to use the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and information to support victims
  • New sections on physical health care, blanket restrictions, duties to support patients with dementia and immigration detainees
  • Significantly updated chapters on the appropriate use of restrictive interventions, particularly seclusion and long-term segregation, police powers and places of safety
  • Further guidance on how to support children and young people, those with a learning disability or autism.

 In response to the launch the Trust has: 

  • Ordered a copy of the new Code of Practice for each team, once they arrive, they will be distributed to each team manager/lead clinician
  • Asked Hill Dickinson Solicitors to provide a summary of the new code which is attached. Over the next few weeks they will provide more detailed briefings concentrating on a particular aspect each week
  • Booked Hill Dickinson to provide a series of “road shows” for staff across the Trust, these will be short sessions to provide all clinical staff with information on the code and help them understand its effect on practice. The dates and venues can be found on our staff intranet.

It is the responsibility of each clinical professional to ensure that they are aware of the new code of practice and its effect on their practice. I would encourage you to distribute the attached briefing to your colleagues and discuss within your team meetings. Sharon Thomas and her team from Hill Dickinson and Jim Wiseman the Trust’s own specialist in this area are also happy to answer any specific questions on the code and help you understand your responsibilities.  Please contact Keiko Provost on 0151 473 2873 if you require further assistance from Jim or Sharon.

Steve Morgan, Director of Patient Safety, Mersey Care NHS Trust, 0151 473 2874.

Information can also be gained from