Introduction - Service User Representation
In March 2003, the Scottish Parliament passed The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) (Act 2003) "the Act", which came into effect in October 2005. The Act set out how people can be treated if they have a mental illness, a learning disability or a personality disorder. It covers such issues as:
- What a person's rights are under the Act.
- What safeguards are in place to ensure those rights are not abused.
- When a person can be taken into hospital against their will.
- When a person can be given treatment against their will.
Detailed information about the Act can be found on the Scottish Government website at: www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Health/health/mentalhealth/mhlaw/home
The Act is based on a set of guiding principles that can be used as a guide to what a service user can expect in their care and treatment, and which most people performing functions under the Act have to consider. These include:
- taking into account the present and past wishes and feelings of the service user;
- taking into account the views of the service user's named person, carer, guardian or welfare attorney;
- the importance of the service user participating as fully as possible;
- the importance of providing the maximum benefit to the service user;
- the importance of providing appropriate services to the service user; and
- the needs and circumstances of the service user's carer.
The Act also sets out principles relating to the way in which a function must be discharged. These require the person discharging the function to do so in a way which, for example:
- involves the minimum restriction on the freedom of the service user that appears to be necessary in the circumstances;
- encourages equal opportunities; and
- if the service user is a child, best secures their welfare.
The Act makes provision for new rights for service users and those who care for them, and highlights important issues relating to the representation of service users including: named persons, advance statements and independent advocacy.
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