MP Walker voices horror over mental health sectioning error

13:03 09 November 2012

Charles Walker MP

Charles Walker MP

Archant

AN MP has voiced his horror after it emerged that up to 5,000 people were sectioned under the Mental Health Act by doctors without the right to do so.

Charles Walker, whose constituency includes Cuffley, Northaw and Goffs Oak, spoke out after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed the “technical error”, in place since 2002.

Mr Walker said in the House of Commons: “Removing the liberty of ill people is serious business, and deserves to be taken seriously.

“That has not been the case for the past decade, or perhaps even longer.

“I hope that, as we go forward, we can ensure that people who are ill get the representation and advocacy they deserve and that they – and, most importantly, their rights – are taken seriously.”

Mr Walker won plaudits earlier this year when he revealed his battle with OCD.

In response health supremo and former Culture Secretary Mr Hunt said: “As a result of the new structures in the NHS, responsibility for ensuring that all patients who are threatened with detention receive the advocacy to which they are entitled under the Mental Health Act will be transferred from primary care trusts to local authorities.

“We will use this opportunity to review the arrangements, talk to local authorities, and do all that we can to ensure that those functions are discharged in the way my honourable friend seeks.”

And reacting to Mr Hunt’s statement Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “I know this House will want to get to the bottom of the unacceptable breaches of procedure that we have just heard about.”

The ‘loophole’ which allowed the blunder has now been closed after retrospective legislation.

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