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Department of Health update: The new mental health act code of practice

Dr Nicola Guy Head of the Review of the MHA Code of Practice Department of Health spoke at today’s Mental Health Act code of practice conference on:

• guiding principles

• what’s new under the revised code?

• training, education and professional responsibilities

Abstract of Dr Nicola Guy's presentation:

Dr Nicola Guy's presentation gives an overview of some of the main changes in the new Code of Practice and the rationale for the changes.

The revised Mental Health Act Code of Practice came in to force on the 1 April 2015 which replaced the 2008 version; it does not alter existing legislation.

The Code provides statutory guidance to registered medical practitioners, approved clinicians, managers and staff of providers, and approved mental health professionals on how they should carry out functions under the Mental Health Act (‘the Act’) in practice. It is statutory guidance for registered medical practitioners and other professionals in relation to the medical treatment of patients suffering from mental disorder.

All those for whom the Code is statutory guidance must ensure that they are familiar with its contents. Others for whom the Code is helpful in carrying out their duties should also be familiar with its requirements. The Code has been revised following extensive consultation, collaboration and engagement with service users, carers, professionals, the voluntary sector, providers, commissioners and statutory bodies.

The code should help professionals on how to carry out their roles and responsibilities under the Mental Health Act 1983, to ensure that all patients receive high quality and safe care.

The new Code should help deliver very significant improvements for people subject to the Mental Health Act, their families and carers.

The revised Code seeks to provide stronger protection for patients and clarify roles, rights and responsibilities. This includes involving the patient and, as appropriate, their families and carers in discussions about the patient’s care at every stage; providing personalised care; and 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:

  • 5 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.


Nicola Guy’s full presentation is available for download at the end of this page.

Dr Nicola Guy is currently a Senior Policy Advisor within the Department of Health, leading the consultation and response to the green paper No Voice Unheard, No right ignored for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions. She was previously the Head of the Mental Health Act Code of Practice review to develop a new Code and Reference Guide to the Mental Health Act 1983. Nicola has led on policy supporting the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, overseen the Social Enterprise Investment Fund and led programmes in Yorkshire and the Humber supporting carers and providing ‘Homes and Jobs for Vulnerable Adults’ (PSA 16).  She has previously lectured at three universities, worked for the Courts Service and for a voluntary organisation in Borneo, bringing fresh water to remote villages and building a sanctuary for sun bears.

Nicola studied at the University of Durham, and Indiana University. She gained her PHD in 2008 focusing on British policy making in the Balkans, and has published two books and several journal articles in related areas. She is awaiting the results of her recent MBA with the Open University.

Future conferences of interest:

Psychosis & Schizophrenia in Adults
Monday 8 June 2015
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Psychological Therapies for Severe Mental Illness
Wednesday 1 July 2015
ICO Conference Centre, London

Improving Physical Health for People with Mental Health Conditions
Monday 14 September 2015
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Implementing the national objective to end Prone/Face Down Restraint: Examining Restraint Positions in Practice
Tuesday 22 September 2015
ICO Conference Centre, London

Improving Mental Health Crisis Care
Thursday 15 October 2015
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Positive and Proactive Care Meeting the New National Guidance on Reducing Seclusion
Tuesday 20 October 2015
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Smoking Cessation in Mental Health
Tuesday 20 October 2015
Hallam Conference Centre, London



Download: Dr Nicola Guy full presentation

12 May 2015


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