Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, responds to the announcement by the Secretary of State for Health on the Mental Health Act provisions in England in the Coronavirus Act.
“There has been a significant increase in the number of patients presenting for urgent and emergency care following the COVID-19 crisis and it is very likely that this will continue. We urge the government to ensure that mental health services are supported to provide much-needed services for patients.
"The provisions were never enacted in England so this announcement will not change how things are currently on the ground for psychiatrists or their patients. The announcement will not apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
"As the Secretary of State has said, mental health services have responded promptly and appropriately to the demands placed upon them but they are likely to be stretched to full capacity in the very near future. If there is a significant increase in staff self-isolating accompanied by an upturn in demand we urge the government to ensure that the provisions could be reviewed if necessary to ensure safe, timely and effective services for patients, including use of the Mental Health Act where this is necessary.”