A report from the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England has been published, containing numerous recommendations aimed at improving mental health services, including expanding provision, more thorough monitoring and regulation, and the inevitable recommendation for the appointment of a “new equalities champion for mental health.” For present purposes most relevantly, the report notes that:

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 makes no distinction between the mental and physical with regard to decisions about care. But the 2005 Act’s provisions about having the mental capacity to consent to care can be over-ridden in the case of mental health care by the 1983 Act. We heard that this can act as a barrier to making parity of esteem a reality because it enshrines differences in the treatment of people with mental and physical health problems and frames care as a method of social control rather than a therapeutic intervention. The 1983 Act should therefore be reviewed as part of the continuing drive for greater parity with physical healthcare.

The report therefore recommends that “The Department of Health should work with a wide range of stakeholders to review whether the Mental Health Act (and relevant Code of Practice) in its current form should be revised in parts, to ensure stronger protection of people’s autonomy, and greater scrutiny and protection where the views of a individuals with mental capacity to make healthcare decisions may be overridden to enforce treatment against their will.