Health Policy

01.11.18

Landmark mental health law will protect patients against excessive force after tragic death

A new law restricting and monitoring the use of force against patients in mental health units has today been given royal ascent after an eight-year battle by the family of a young man who died after being excessively restrained.

The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, also known as Seni’s law, was inspired by Olaseni Lewis who died in 2010 after he was restrained by 11 police officers at a mental health ward in Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham.

At the inquest into Seni’s death in 2017, the restraint used was deemed to be “excessive, unreasonable and disproportionate,” and the actions of police and healthcare staff were unanimously condemned.

Seni’s family, along with Mind campaigners, have fought for the laws around use of force to be changed and now the bill, proposed by Corydon North’s MP Steve Reed, will come into effect.

This new law will see a crack down on the force used by police at mental health hospitals, who must actively take steps to reduce force used on patients as well as police being required to wear body cameras when called to mental health settings.

Aji Lewis, Seni’s mother, said: “When Seni became ill, we took him to hospital which we thought was the best place for him.

“We shall always bear the cross of knowing that, instead of the help and care he needed, Seni met with his death.”

Ms Lewis said it took years of struggle to discover what really happened, and that she did not want anyone else to go through the failures at multiple levels amongst the management and staff and the “brute force” of police that her son was forced to go through.

“That is why we have supported this initiative by Steve Reed MP which has culminated today in Seni’s Law.  We welcome it in his memory, in the hope that it proves to be a lasting legacy in his name, so that no other family has to suffer as we have suffered.”

Alongside the steps which must now be taken to reduce the use of force, which includes better training for staff, better data will now be collected and published on how and when physical force is used.

With a 47% rise in the Mental Health Act being used to detain people, Mind declared a “landmark step to improve the safety of people experiencing a mental health crisis,” and said that “it has the potential to put an end to any more devastating and inexcusable deaths, like Seni’s, which should never have happened in the first place.”

The charity’s chief executive Paul Farmer stressed the important of treating those in mental health crisis with “dignity, care and compassion” instead of “humiliating and dehumanising” restraint, and also pointed to the disproportionate rates of detention for those with BAME backgrounds.

Steve Reed MP said: “This new law will save lives and gives mental health patients in the UK some of the best protection in the world from abusive restraint. INQUEST’s support and advice has been critical in getting this change.”

Image credit - Lewis Family website

 

Enjoying NHE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

NHS staff to receive ‘fast-track’ mental health support as part of wellbeing plans

21/02/2019NHS staff to receive ‘fast-track’ mental health support as part of wellbeing plans

The government has pledged to provide better mental health and wellbeing support for NHS staff as part of its ‘workforce implementation pla... more >
NHS pays £35m in tax penalties for staff breaching pension limits

21/02/2019NHS pays £35m in tax penalties for staff breaching pension limits

Nearly £35m was paid by the NHS for thousands of staff members who broke limits on pensions savings, according to the Financial Times.... more >
University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust hospital hit with ‘requires improvement’ rating again by CQC

21/02/2019University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust hospital hit with ‘requires improvement’ rating again by CQC

The health inspectorate has told University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust that it must improve its diagnostic and pharmacy services at Derriford H... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

Did Brexit drown out the NHS Long Term plan?

20/02/2019Did Brexit drown out the NHS Long Term plan?

In January the NHS released its much-anticipated Long Term plan, pledging to save 500,000 lives through new prevent strategies, and making a concerted effort to improve the general public’s health. But Simon Keen, media relations manager at NHS Providers, poses the question: Did Brexit drown out the NHS Long Term plan? Brexit. Bruss... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Maximising volunteer potential in hospitals

14/02/2019Maximising volunteer potential in hospitals

Sam Ward, director of commissioned services at the Royal Voluntary Service, argues that the right training can help harness the power of voluntee... more >
ICO: Cyber security and the NHS

14/02/2019ICO: Cyber security and the NHS

Peter Brown, acting head of technology policy at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), explains the importance of good practice in data pr... more >
Leading and managing experts

14/02/2019Leading and managing experts

A coaching conversation is likely to yield the best results. Managing experts in the health industry can be a challenging and varying responsibil... more >
Mesothelioma in the UK: a growing fight

14/02/2019Mesothelioma in the UK: a growing fight

The health impacts of asbestos in the UK can cast a much wider net than those in the construction and building sector. Liz Darlison, head of serv... more >

interviews

How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >
Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >

health service focus

View all News