Short Life Mental Health Legislation Commencement Consideration Group minutes: November 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 10 November 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Arun Chopra, MWC
  • Laura Dunlop, Mental Health Tribunal Scotland
  • Bob Leslie, Social Work Scotland
  • Hugh McAloon, SG (Chair)
  • Ruth Wilson, SG
  • Diane Strachan, SG
  • Mairi Bremner, SG


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

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed attendees to the eleventh meeting of the Group and noted apologies.  

The Chair also noted that, formal high level minutes of Group meetings are now being published on the SG website under the page which has been set up for this Group.  

The minutes of the 10th meeting which took place on 21 October were agreed.

2. Update on Reporting & Scrutiny

The Group were updated on the latest activity in relation to parliamentary scrutiny and reporting on the coronavirus legislation.  

The 4th report to the Scottish Parliament on the legislative measures will be published in early December therefore there is a need to reach an agreed position on the continued necessity covering provisions within both the UK and Second Scottish Coronavirus Acts by the end of November.

3. Consideration of evidence for commencement of temporary amendments within the UK Coronavirus Act 2020

The Chair then turned to the main item on the agenda, 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 – both under the mental health and adults with incapacity legislation.  The following points were noted in discussion:

  • The Mental Health Tribunal reported that overall they have a reasonably stable operation and are presently able to manage workloads.  It’s worth noting that   their offices are located within a Tier 3 area and this could potentially impact the availability of their workforce. They continue to collect good data in relation to numbers of applications with the most recent figures showing an average weekly rate of 89 for all applications which is slightly down compared to the position at the time of the last stakeholder meeting.  The unpredictable range of figures from week to week makes clear that it would be dangerous to draw anything other than the overall picture remains challenging.
  • Social Work Scotland information shows that there continues to be a steady stream in the number of detentions taking place under mental health legislation and highlight an increase in those requiring an order for the first time.  Local intelligence also indicates that overall the increase in short term orders are not leading to CTO’s which is good news in one respect. Again the issue of workloads relating to AWI is concerning as this is placing significant pressure on mental health officer staffing.  With fewer MHO’s available on the front line this will have an effect on delivery of service before we even factor in the usual winter pressures.
  • The Mental Welfare Commission also pointed to increased activity under mental health legislation however it was worth noting that the numbers of orders do seem to be plateauing slightly.  That being said, activity on detentions remains busy and is subject to constant change.

The Group noted that the pandemic remains very challenging and acknowledged that we are moving towards winter, 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.

The Group also agreed that the provisions covering named persons which form part of the second Scottish Act should though remain in force.


The Group noted that the Mental Welfare Commission are working towards a publication of data for the period March – Sept which will focus on EDC’s and STDC’s.  This report will also show data by Health Board in the hope this could be useful going forward as it will demonstrate how Boards have managed their individual situations. This will be complemented by the next scheduled PHS report on bed availability.  The final detail and date for publication is yet to be confirmed.

The next meeting will take place on 2 December.

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