Short Life Mental Health Legislation Commencement Consideration Group Minutes: March 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 10 March 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Arun Chopra, MWC
  • Laura Dunlop, Mental Health Tribunal Scotland
  • Bob Leslie, Social Work Scotland


  • Martin McKenna, SCTS
  • John Crichton, Royal College of Psychiatrists


  • Hugh McAloon, SG
  • Diane Strachan (Chair)
  • Ruth Wilson

Items and actions

Commencement of temporary amendments within the UK Coronavirus Act 2020 consideration of evidence

The Chair opened the meeting and turned to the single agenda item, the consideration of evidence and intelligence on how the mental health system is operating under current circumstances.

There was a general discussion regarding the trend in activity and the following points were noted in discussion:

  • The Mental Health Tribunal reported that the availability of staff has increased which has helped ensure they continue to meet all deadlines however they remain working at full capacity. The most recent figures show that they are averaging 103 applications per week which is a slight increase from last month. They are still undertaking the majority of hearings by phone however they have also facilitated 10 in person and 7 by WebEx (17 overall).
  • The Mental Welfare Commission report that the Act appears to be operating as intended although there has been a rise in the number of EDCs being recorded and an increase in those without the involvement of a MHO. While there had been a higher number of STDCs, they now appear to be dropping off. The MWC advised that their DMP service has been predominately undertaken by phone although they are also making using of “Near Me”. They still retain the right to visit in person if need be.
  • Social Work Scotland have reported that activity levels remain high and in line with the MWC data have noticed an increase in the number of EDC’s being required, especially out of hours. In general there were also a higher number of patients accessing services via general acute hospitals. It’s also worth noting that they are also aware of the increase in demand for advocacy services.

The following was submitted in writing:

  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists report that they continue to see an increase in referrals and in the severity of referrals, likely reflecting the impacts of the pandemic on those with pre-existing mental ill health. Nonetheless, this demand is not specifically related to staff absences as a direct result of COVID. It remains unlikely that such staffing pressures will re-emerge, particularly now many of our members and those we provide care to have received the Covid-19 vaccine.

Provisions with Schedule 9 of the Mental Health Act retained

The Group overall noted that this remains a challenging period however the current levels of operation of the AWI and Mental Health Acts merits a continued cautious approach in respect of the emergency provisions. They therefore recommend that those provisions contained within Schedule 9 of the UK Act continue to be retained, but not commenced and are hopeful that the continuing necessity will reduce over the next few months.

The next meeting will take place in April – date TBC

Mental Health and Incapacity Law Unit

March 2021

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