Headlines: January 25th, 1999

More light has emerged on Government thinking about how to replace care in the community.At a London conference on the Government’s new Mental Health Strategy, Health Minister John Hutton argued the case for a change in the law to allow compulsory treatment in the community.

He said: “I know that there has been a fair degree of speculation about compulsory treatment in community settings,” said Mr Hutton. “What is clear is that compliance is not necessarily to be confined to medication, and that where medication is involved, its administration should not take place in the individual’s own home, but in an appropriate clinical setting.

“The introduction of some form of compulsion which is not necessarily coupled to detention is an important step in providing safe sound and supportive services. It is entirely consistent with our aim to ensure that compliance with treatment should occur in the least restrictive environment.”

Mr Hutton has asked a review team to report by the end of June with advice. It has been tasked with looking at issues such as compulsory treatment in the community.