Mental Health Act powers to be dropped from the Coronavirus Act

Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary

Matt Hancock has announced that the temporary changes regarding the Mental Health Act will be removed from the Coronavirus Act. The changes, which many saw as controversial, looked to reduce the number of doctors or nurses needed to detain a person under section 2 and 3 of the Act from two to one and also allowed persons to be detained hospital pending assessment to 120 and 12 hours, up from 72 and six respectively, whilst also allowing the police to detain a person in a place of safety for 36 hours under section 135 and 136 of the MHA, up from the current 24. Fortunately, none of these measures had to be used during the pandemic.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock has this to say:

“I hope that that will reassure colleagues that we take a proportionate approach to these measures and that we want to make sure that we have the measures that we need, but where we don’t need the measures then we will set them aside,” he said.

“These were always powers of last resort and I was not persuaded even in the peak that they were necessary because our mental health services have shown incredible resilience and ingenuity.

“So I’ve decided these powers are no longer required in England and will not remain part of the act.”

The government would shortly bring forward the secondary legislation needed to remove the provisions, he said.