Mental Health Standards of Care (Wales) Bill

Wales news
18 December 2023

Last week, saw the Senedd debate a Private Member's Bill that seeks to set new mental health legislation for Wales. 

The Mental Health Standards of Care (Wales) Bill was tabled by James Evans, Senedd Member for Brecon & Radnorshire.

The Bill is rights-focused, and brings forward changes for how the Mental Health Act is used in Wales. Whilst health is a devolved matter, and justice isn't; these are identified changes that fall within the Senedd's legislative competence.

The Bill also seeks to amend an element of the existing Mental Health Measure legislation. 

Several elements of the Bill include:

  • Enshrining principles into how mental health services are delivered in Wales focusing on Choice & Autonomy, Least Restriction, Therapeutic Benefit, and treating the Person as an Individual.
  • Replacing the Nearest Relative provisions in the Mental Health Act with a new role of Nominated Person. This Nominated Person will be able to represent the person and exercise relevant statutory functions on their behalf. This introduction is informed by the 2018 Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, which highlighted that patients and stakeholders consistently found the current model of family and carer involvement outdated and insufficient.
  • Additionally, The Bill also sets out to amend elements of the existing Mental Health (Wales) Measure, to ensure that there is no age limit upon those who can request a re-assessment of their mental health and to extend the ability to request a reassessment to people specified by the patient.

The Bill was debated on Wednesday 13th December, and James was formally granted 'leave to proceed', whilst the Bill was met with no objection, and received cross-party support.

The College has also reached out to members to seek views on further development, and a complimenting focus on regulations of the Mental Health Measure.

Following the granting of 'leave to proceed', the Bill will undergo formal scrutiny of the Senedd.

Member of the Senedd for Brecon and Radnorshire, James Evans MS said:

“The changes I am proposing to make are narrow and focused, but significant to updating Mental Health legislation here in Wales; they come with very little cost, but they will go a long way to improve the outcomes and experiences for people suffering with their mental health here in Wales.

“This is an important, rights-focused Bill, and I’ve been delighted to have worked with colleagues across the Senedd in shaping this work. I hope to continue to work very closely with members, organisations and experts in the development of this Bill, should the Senedd give its consent to the proposal progressing to the next stage.”

Also commenting, The Children's Commissioner for Wales, Rocio Cifuentes said:

“Children have the right under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to the best possible standard of healthcare, and to express their views and to have those views taken seriously, according to age and maturity.

“This includes their views on all aspects of healthcare. The amendments to the Measure proposed in this Bill would mean that children are able to request a re-assessment of their mental health, which they are currently restricted from doing. These changes would empower children in line with the Convention, to which Welsh Government Ministers must pay due regard.”