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

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 21 October 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • John Crichton, Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Laura Dunlop, Mental Health Tribunal Scotland 
  • Bob Leslie, Social Work Scotland
  • Alison Thomson, Mental Welfare Commission
  • Angela Davidson, SG (Chair)
  • Hugh McAloon, SG
  • Alastair Cook, SG
  • Diane Strachan, SG
  • Mairi Bremner, SG


  • Arun Chopra, MWC
  • Martin McKenna, SCTS

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed attendees to the tenth meeting of the Group and noted apologies. An update was provided on the realignment of responsibilities within the Mental Health and Social Care Directorate; which would result in a change in chairing arrangements going forward.

The Chair also noted that, to date, formal minutes of Group meetings have not been produced but the read-outs from the meetings have formed part of the advice going forward to Ministers on the status of the emergency legislative provisions in respect of mental health. However, it have been decided that it would be helpful to produce a short high-level note of each meeting for publication on the SG website. Attendees were supportive of this approach.

Update on reporting and scrutiny

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

The third report to the Scottish Parliament on the legislative measures was published on 6 October with the next review due for publication in early December. The Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, Europe and External Affairs will be giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Committee on the third report on 28 October.

It was noted that in a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Committee regarding the third report, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission Scotland had again called for the repeal of Schedule 9 on the grounds that, if commenced, it would have a hugely significant impact on the lives of disabled people. Attention will shortly turn to preparations for the fourth report which will require decisions on continued necessity of the provisions by mid-November.

In advance of the meeting, a draft of the annexes to the proposed Scottish Government response to the Equality and Human Rights Committee was circulated. The Group provided some comments on the draft response.

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 continuing upward trend in activity – both under the mental health and adults with incapacity legislation. The following points were noted in discussion:

  • the Mental Health Tribunal continue to collect good data in relation to numbers of CTO applications.  Numbers have gone back down slightly since the last meeting – the w/b 7 September the weekly average was 96 applications per week. This data is complementary to that provided by the MWC, which focuses on EDC/STDC applications, however, it would be useful to double check data regarding CTO application numbers between MHTS and MWC

Action: MHTS and MWC to liaise on data collected in relation to CTO applications

  • Social Work Scotland information shows that the position is steady but seeing increased demand in respect of detentions under mental health legislation. Of particular concern is the rapid increase in activity under AWI legislation as a result of the suspension of the ‘stop the clock’ provisions. As a result, there is significant pressure on mental health officer staffing and, while continuing to function, there concern that the situation is potentially fragile
  • the Mental Welfare Commission intelligence also pointed to increased activity under mental health legislation
  • the Royal College noted concerns amongst the workforce about the impact of a second wave, given that NHS Boards are now trying to remobilise services. During the first wave, there was a drop in demand for mental health services which helped services to cope, but this is not the case this time around

The Group noted the concerns raised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland but, on balance, given the backdrop of increasing activity and move towards winter, they were content to continue with a cautious approach in respect of the emergency provisions and recommend that they continue to be retained, but not commenced.


There was no other business. The Chair thanked attendees and confirmed this would be her final meeting as Chair. A date for the next meeting will be circulated in due course.

Mental Health and Incapacity Law Unit
October 2020

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