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Protecting human rights in psychiatric hospitals 08/08/2014 More must be done to protect the human rights of patients in psychiatric hospitals, according to the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

Protecting human rights in psychiatric hospitals

More must be done to protect the human rights of patients in psychiatric hospitals, according to the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

The organisation was commenting on the latest monitoring report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland into the use of restrictions under Part 18 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 – basically relating to restrictions on telephone use, correspondence and some aspects of safety and security.

According to the Mental Welfare Commission, “there continues to be wide variation in the understanding and interpretation of these sections of the Act. Some restrictions were imposed without proper legal authority, and there was a general lack of knowledge of appeal rights, among both patients and staff.”

Commenting on the report’s findings, Professor Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said:

“When someone is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, their human rights always stay with them: that is a fundamental principle that must always be respected. This report from the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland shows an unfortunate gap between the laws that protect everyone’s rights in theory, and the experiences people have in practice. For anyone who is in the already vulnerable situation of being detained in hospital, this is concerning.”

“Clearly, more work is needed to help patients understand and claim their rights, and to help staff understand and discharge their responsibilities to respect people’s rights. Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights provides an established framework for government, the health service, regulators and others to take action to address this. Action will include implementing the commitment in the Mental Health Strategy to increase awareness, understanding and respect for human rights in mental health services.”

 

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