New mental health law to prevent inappropriate force

December 7, 2021

According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), patients in mental health settings will be better protected from inappropriate use of force following the commencement of landmark regulations and publication of guidance of the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 today.

The Act, which received royal assent in November 2018, is better known as Seni’s Law and is named after Olaseni Lewis, who died as a result of being disproportionately restrained while a voluntary inpatient in a mental health unit in South London.

The important legislation will protect patients and workforce by providing a much-needed drive for improved record keeping and reporting of data on the use of force, the quality of staff training and the way in which investigations are carried out.

The Act sets out the measures needed to both prevent the inappropriate use of force and ensure accountability and transparency in mental health units, ensuring patients are treated with dignity and respect at all times.

New guidance published today will make sure trusts will have a clearer understanding on how to comply with the duties under the Act.

The guidance has been developed following extensive engagement with the mental health sector and a wide range of stakeholders including those with lived experience, the NHS, regulators and Aji Lewis and Seni’s family.

Aji Lewis, Seni’s mother said, ‘It’s so good to see the guidance published today and the Act being commenced. This is my son’s legacy, and I hope it will mean what happened to Seni will not happen to anyone else.

‘I look forward to continuing to work with the Government and mental health providers to make sure the act is properly implemented and real change is achieved.’

Seni’s Law forms part of the government’s wider commitment to transform mental health services for those with severe mental illness and follows publication of the Mental Health Act White Paper earlier this year which set out proposals for once in a generation reform.

Visit the Government website to read the Government White Paper on Mental Health reform.

In other news, Dimensions, the UK’s largest not-for-profit provider of support to people with learning disabilities autism and complex needs, has announced the winners of its 2021 Leaders’ List.


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