McGimpsey launches EQIA for new Mental Capacity Bill and proposals following McDermott caseFriday, 30 July 2010
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has today published for consultation an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) on its key proposals for the development of a new Mental Capacity (Health, Welfare and Finance) Bill.
These proposals arise out of the Bamford Review of legislation supporting mental health and learning disability services.
In September 2009, the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey announced that new mental capacity and mental health legislation for Northern Ireland, will for the first time, be encompassed into a single piece of legislation.
The overall principle of the new Mental Capacity Bill is ‘autonomy’ which will ensure that individuals with mental capacity to make their own decisions about their healthcare, welfare and financial affairs will be allowed to do so.
The Bill will apply to individuals who do not have mental capacity to make such decisions for themselves. It will provide a real opportunity to enhance protections for some of the most vulnerable people in society and to ensure their dignity and human rights are fully protected.
The Department is also proposing to broaden the definition of mental disorder so that mental disorder will be interpreted to mean any disorder or disability of the mind. It is proposed this definition will include those with a personality disorder, but persons with a learning disability will be generally excluded from the definition except where that learning disability is associated with abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct. In these circumstances compulsory interventions under the Bill will be possible.
This EQIA is part of addressing the longer term solution of new mental capacity legislation, and will pave the way for comprehensive legislation to be considered by the Assembly soon after the election in May 2011.
In the meantime, as a matter of urgency, following the recent McDermott court case, the Minister is also proposing to provide additional protections by seeking Executive approval to make an interim amendment to the current definition of mental disorder within the existing Mental Health NI Order 1986.
Note to editors:
1. The purpose of the EQIA is to measure any impact that the Department’s legislative proposals might have on the promotion of equality of opportunity and of good relations within the terms of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
2. The EQIA is available on the DHSSPS website - Responses are invited by 31st October 2010.
3. The new Mental Capacity Bill is a lengthy and complex piece of legislation. It will be ready for introduction to the Assembly in 2011.
4. Media enquiries to the DHSSPS Press Office on 02890 520575. For media enquiries out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.