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Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill to hold first oral evidence session

7 October 2022

The Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill will hold its first oral evidence session on Tuesday 11 October.

The Joint Committee was established by Parliament to scrutinise the draft Mental Health Bill, including whether it achieves the Government’s aims to promote patient choice and ensure that fewer people are detained against their wishes. The Committee is expected to ask about the new detention criteria in the draft Mental Health Bill and consider concerns that there are presently too few alternatives to detention. 

The Committee is also expected to examine how the bill will impact racial inequality and ethnic minorities, with Government data showing that black people are currently four times more likely to be detained on mental health grounds than white people.  

The draft Bill makes significant changes to the Mental Health Act in regard to autistic people and people with learning disabilities. In particular, it means that they cannot be detained unless they have, or are under assessment for, a concurrent mental health condition. The Committee will ask whether this will reduce inappropriate detention, and whether community support for autistic people and people with learning disabilities is sufficient. 

The Committee will be hearing evidence from two panels on Tuesday 11 October. The first panel (from around 15.30) includes representatives from prominent mental health charities about the proposals included in the draft bill. The second panel (from 17.00) will focus on the potential impact of the draft bill on autistic people. The Committee will hear from Alexis Quinn, who has written about her experiences as an autistic person detained in a mental health facility, and Dr Jennifer Kilcoyne.  

Witnesses from 15:30

  • Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind
  • Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive at Centre for Mental Health
  • Lucy Schonegevel, Deputy Chief Executive at Rethink Mental Illness
  • Mary Sadid, Policy Manager at National Survivor Users Network

Witnesses from approximately 17:00 

  • Alexis Quinn, Manager at the Restraint Reduction Network 
  • Dr Jennifer Kilcoyne, Clinical Director, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Director of the National HOPE(S) NHSE Collaborative

Further information

Image: UK Parliament/Tyler Allicock