Lord O'Shaughnessy contributions to the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018

Tue 30th October 2018 Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill (Lords Chamber)
3rd reading (Handard): House of Lords
3 interactions (177 words)
Fri 7th September 2018 Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill (Lords Chamber)
2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
5 interactions (3,446 words)

Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill Debate

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Department: Department of Health and Social Care

Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill

(3rd reading (Handard): House of Lords)
Lord O'Shaughnessy Excerpts
Tuesday 30th October 2018

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Baroness Massey of Darwen Portrait Baroness Massey of Darwen (Lab)
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My Lords, in moving that the Bill do now pass, I should like to sincerely thank several people, including the Minister and his counterpart in the other place, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, who have been so supportive and helpful on the Bill. I also thank the voluntary sector, which has been incredibly vigorous and thorough in making sure that the Bill is as close to perfect as it can be. Will the Minister confirm that there will be other, informal, meetings on the Bill, which will look at the guidance to the Bill, particularly on statistics, impact and measurements? I wish to say that the Bill should now pass.

Lord O'Shaughnessy Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord O’Shaughnessy) (Con)
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I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for her question and, more importantly, for her steering the Bill to this point. I offer my thanks to her, her colleague Steve Reed in the other place and everybody who has been involved in this important piece of legislation. As she will know, my honourable friend Jackie Doyle-Price, the Minister for Mental Health, committed to the Government publishing statutory guidance within 12 months of the Bill being passed. I am happy to confirm to the noble Baroness that, in developing this guidance, the department will establish and consult an expert reference group, which will include experts on restrictive intervention as well as people with lived experience and, furthermore, that public consultation will take place before the publication of the final guidance. So I can absolutely reassure the noble Baroness and all noble Lords that we will consult widely with a broad set of stakeholders, as well as reflecting discussions in this House and the other place, to make sure that all those contributions are included in the guidance.

Bill passed.

Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill Debate

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Department: Department of Health and Social Care

Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill

(2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords)
Lord O'Shaughnessy Excerpts
Friday 7th September 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Baroness Thornton Portrait Baroness Thornton (Lab)
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My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on her excellent introduction to the Bill and on this short but very expert debate.

I agree with my honourable friend in the Commons, Justin Madders, when he indicated the Opposition’s support for the Bill:

“I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed) for introducing the Bill; he certainly made a powerful case for it. Everything we have heard has made it clear why the Bill is necessary. … Restraint is used too often and disproportionately in certain sections of society. This cannot be allowed to continue. When she responds, I hope the Minister will support the Bill and allow it to be sent to Committee”.—[Official Report, Commons, 3/11/17; cols. 1107-09.]

As we know, the Government are to be congratulated on their willingness to support the Bill.

As noble Lords have said, the purpose of the Bill is to improve,

“the oversight and management of the appropriate use of force in relation to people in mental health units”.

It aims to do this in various ways, including through extensive training and requiring police officers to wear body cameras while in mental health units.

The case that has been referred to, of Seni Lewis dying due to improper force, is not isolated or a rare mishap. The current reality is that there is a severe lack of trained workers, leaving it open for patients in these health units to be abused and mistreated. The Crisis Prevention Institute found that in 2016-17—other noble Lords have referred to this—3,652 patients were injured while being restrained during NHS treatment. This is widely recognised as unacceptable, as shown by the unanimous support the Bill gained as it went through the Commons.

I am going to refer particularly to women who die after being restrained. In July, the organisation that looks at the issues faced by women facing multiple deprivation and abuse, Agenda, published research which said that 32 women died after experiencing restraint over a five-year period. It continued:

“The data, on patients detained under the Mental Health Act, suggests women were more likely to have restraint-related deaths than men between 2012/13 and 2016/17. Younger women made up a large number of the restraint-related deaths – 13 were aged 30 and under, compared to 4 men in that age range. More than a fifth of women who died were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, according to the figures, which were originally gathered by the Care Quality Commission”.

The director of Agenda, Katharine Sacks-Jones, said at the time:

“It is a national scandal that so many women are dying in our hospitals after being subjected to restraint. Mental health units are meant to be caring, therapeutic environments for women and girls feeling at their most vulnerable, not places where their lives”,

should be,

“put at risk. This bill is a real opportunity to reduce the use of this potentially lethal practice”.

I hope that we will see it go through your Lordships’ House.

However, that issue of the gender-based and other equality-based issues is one that I would like the Minister to address because of those factors. The idea that a woman who may be suffering from mental health problems and has been abused should then be subject to restraint in a mental health unit is really unthinkable and cruel. The guidance that flows from this legislation really has to address those issues.

A whole series of amendments were tabled in the Commons, which we will probably not be discussing in your Lordships’ House because we want to get the Bill on the statute book and do not want to risk it. However, those amendments tabled to the Bill in the Commons raised some very important points. I hope that the Minister will address the issues they raised, many of which have been raised by noble Lords already. They include: that training for staff should include training on trauma-informed care to understand how trauma exposure can affect patients’ neurological, biological, psychological and social development; to ensure that staff are required to have training on a patient’s right to advocacy, so as to improve the legal rights of the patient and capability of the staff; to ensure that the training for staff includes training on safeguarding procedures, to increase the protections for patients and the knowledge and capabilities of staff; and to ensure that training on the use of force complies with the quality standards so that the Secretary of State can delegate the training standards to a different agency, for example Health Education England.

The noble Baroness has already mentioned the importance of recording and accountability. I want to raise the use of the word “negligible”. It seems to me that it provides a loophole and could decrease transparency. I hope the Minister will be able to address that issue because I would hate us to find ourselves back here in three or four years’ time discussing this issue again because we have managed to put on to the statute book something that creates a loophole which is then used to not solve this problem.

I agree with noble Lords that the Secretary of State coming to Parliament with the statistics about mental health units and the use of force is very important. Is the Minister confident that, if we put this legislation on the statute book, the legislation and the guidance will be sufficiently robust to achieve what my honourable friend Steve Reed wanted to achieve when he set off on this journey, which was to not allow these tragedies to happen again?

Lord O'Shaughnessy Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord O’Shaughnessy) (Con)
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My Lords, I shall begin by thanking three sets of people for getting us this far. The first is the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, whom I thank for introducing this Bill and for the opportunity to respond and contribute to the Second Reading. The second is Steve Reed, the MP for Croydon North, who, as all noble Lords have said, has done much of the work to get the Bill to where it is today. We know how difficult the journey of a Private Member’s Bill is, but that it has got this far in this good shape and has this broad support shows not just how important this issue is, but what a fantastic job he has done. I congratulate him. The third set of people are the parents and family of Olaseni Lewis. They have been through a heartbreaking experience, but they have nevertheless fought and campaigned tirelessly for justice for their son. I join other Members of the House in expressing my admiration for them, their resolve and the work they have done to ensure that other families do not to suffer in the way they and their son sadly had to.

This is an emotive subject. It touches the lives of people when they are at their most vulnerable, but at the same time we need to be conscious of the fact that patients must have trust in all NHS services in whatever setting. In that context, the topic of restrictive interventions is always difficult. They are never without risk. Going through an intervention and, I believe, delivering one can be a frightening and traumatic experience for patients and staff at a time when those patients are unwell. The Government are clear that restrictive interventions should only be used as a last resort when all attempts to de-escalate a situation have been employed.

Noble Lords are aware that in April 2014 the Government launched the positive and safe programme, which aimed to reduce the use of these kinds of restrictive interventions in the health and social care sector. That included the non-statutory guidance, Positive and Proactive Care: Reducing the Need for Restrictive Interventions. It was intended to inform the Care Quality Commission’s programme of monitoring and inspections.

What has been identified not just in this debate but during the passage of the Bill in the other place and by my honourable friend the Minister is that the existing guidance is not having the impact the Government expected and that much more needs to be done. For that reason as well as others, the Government are in full support of this Bill.

The noble Baroness, Lady Massey, was right in saying that this Bill is a good example of cross-party collaboration. A number of changes have been incorporated since it was first introduced to respond to multiple concerns, many of which have been raised this afternoon and by other parliamentarians, campaigners and staff. I pay tribute to all those who have contributed to the improvement of the legislation in the other place.

I shall deal quickly with some of the amendments that were made in the other place because they demonstrate how the Bill has been improved and that it is in a good place now. First, we have included “isolation” and “segregation” in the key definitions of use of force to address stakeholder concerns that these commonly used techniques would not be recorded and reported on nationally if they were not included in the Bill. We clarified the role of the responsible person in Clause 2 so that a board-level or equivalent person has responsibility for reducing restrictive interventions.

We have added to Clause 3 so that the policy on the use of force must set out what steps will be taken to reduce the use of force in the mental health unit, something that has been mentioned many times today. We strengthened Clause 4 in relation to sharing information with the patient about their rights, so that the responsible person has to take whatever steps are reasonably practicable to ensure not only that a patient is aware of the information about their rights but that they understand it. Critically, on the point that was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, it will ensure that every patient and their family members or carers understand what the patient’s rights are in relation to the use of force while they are in a mental health unit, a really important improvement.

In Clause 5 we have expanded the topics that must be covered in training courses to recognise the impact that trauma may have on a patient’s physical and mental health and, as the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, said, what is known as trauma-informed care. I will return to the issue of training but I will say at this point that we have also now included a requirement for staff to receive refresher training as appropriate, so it is not just one-off training.

We have expanded the list of information that must be recorded in Clause 6 to include a description of how force was used and the outcome of that use of force to increase transparency and accountability, while also amending the time for which records must be kept so that it is proportionate and in line with data protection law.

In Clause 7 we have ensured that the responsibility for publishing annual statistics sits with the Secretary of State in order to enable NHS Digital to collect national data and produce and publish those statistics. Following this debate today, in response to the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, I will clarify the timing of the publication of the statistics so that it can be done in a way that shines the greatest light on that information. I shall write to her and all noble Lords with more details on that.

In Clause 8 we have further committed to an annual review of published reports by coroners under paragraph 7 of Schedule 5 to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009—more commonly known as regulation 28 reports—relating to the death of a patient as a result of the use of force, and any other findings made during that year. This will enable lessons to be learned across the system. This was one of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and again, I will respond to that in a bit more detail in a moment.

Clause 9 is the result of much discussion about investigations, to ensure that mental health units have regard to any guidance relating to investigating deaths or serious injuries that is published by a range of organisations including CQC, NHS Improvement and NHS England, as has been referenced. This puts the NHS Serious Incident Framework on a legal footing and gives strength to the requirement to carry out an independent investigation into an unexpected death, including the death of a patient following the use of force.

Finally on the improvements made in the other place, the clause on police body cameras was amended to ensure that the use of body-worn video is proportionate, legitimate, necessary and in line with the College of Policing guidance on its use. It was also amended to clarify that failure to bring or use body-worn video when attending an incident in a mental health unit is not in itself a criminal offence.

I thank noble Lords for indulging me in mentioning those points. I wanted to demonstrate the improvements that have been made in response to stakeholders from the charitable and voluntary sector. By virtue of those improvements, we can be confident that the Bill is in very good shape and, in response to the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, has the best possible chance of delivering the outcomes we want. We want to ensure that the Bill goes through in its current shape but, like my colleague Jackie Doyle-Price, I will be more than happy to meet any noble Lords who want further reassurance on any of the questions they have asked, although I shall try to deal with some of them as well as I can now.

I turn to some of the specific points and questions raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, and other noble Lords. First, on the timing of the statutory guidance, calls to see drafts of it and the timetable for its publication, Jackie Doyle-Price in the other place accepted the need to move quickly and said that publication within 12 months of the Bill being passed would be appropriate in the context. I believe that this is reasonable, given the complexity of the guidance that we will need to consider. On the critical question of how it will be drawn up, we plan to establish and consult with an expert reference group, including experts in the field of restrictive interventions and people with lived experience, as well as carrying out a public consultation on the guidance before it is published. I reassure noble Lords that we will work closely with key stakeholders to take account of their contributions, and the discussions on the Bill in both Houses, in developing the guidance. I hope all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of that guidance.

The issue of diversity and the disproportionate use of force for black and minority-ethnic groups was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale. Annual figures from the mental health services dataset showed that in 2017 the number of people subject to restrictive interventions was 9,771. Collectively, these people experienced more than 71,000 incidents of restrictive interventions. They also showed that they were disproportionately affecting patients from the BAME community, as well as women and children, as was mentioned by the noble Baronesses, Lady Thornton and Lady Tyler. This is clearly unacceptable, but we do not yet have a consistent and rich enough dataset to understand exactly where the problems in the disproportionate use of force take place, when they take place, in what settings, and so on. It is precisely for that reason that we want that rich dataset to inform practice and action, and to respond accordingly. I should be pleased to follow up our debate today with noble Lords, once data is available, to think about what action could be taken to address the discrepancies in performance.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Tyler and Lady Massey, asked about children. I can confirm that the Bill applies to all patients in a mental health unit, including children, for the purposes of treatment for a mental disorder. The children and young people who are being looked after in those mental health units are, of course, among the most vulnerable patients, and I absolutely acknowledge that staff will require a different skill set when looking after them. I will come to the issue of staff training in a moment, but Clause 5 sets out the requirements for staff training, including involving patients in their care, and this will be a different conversation for children and young people than for an adult. I reassure noble Lords that the statutory guidance that we produce will have specific examples and principles of good practice for how to carry out those conversations with young people and children, as well as with adults.

I should like to address some questions raised about the use of force. Although it has not been raised in this debate, it was asked in the other place whether the words “threat to use force” and “coercion” should be included. The reason for resisting that is that we believe that they can be useful terms when used properly as part of de-escalation techniques. As the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, pointed out, those techniques are incredibly important in reducing the use of force wherever possible.

Nevertheless, we need to ensure that there is proper oversight to ensure that threats are not used improperly. That is part of the policy that we will expect the responsible persons to put in place to ensure proper responsibility, and proper accountability within the organisation for the reduction of the use of force and not merely substituting for it by other means.

Of course, as noble Lords have pointed out, staff must be properly trained. On those occasions where restrictive interventions are needed, we must feel confident that mental health unit staff have the techniques at their hands to use properly. In response to the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, and other noble Lords, I say that Clause 5 sets out as a minimum the list of training topics which must be covered. The list in the Bill is not exhaustive, but covers the essential topic areas key to ensuring that, where necessary, force is used in a safe way using the least restrictive force. I mentioned that that will include ensuring that staff receive refresher training at regular intervals to ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest techniques and new approaches.

While we are on the topic of force, I shall address the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, about the use of the term “negligible”. As I have said, Clause 6 imposes a duty to keep a record of any use of force on the patient by staff who work in that unit. It sets out what information should be recorded and how long those records should be kept.

The clause also states that the duty to record does not apply to the use of negligible use of force. This is because, in consultation with our health partners, it was felt that staff should not be burdened with the need to record lower-level therapeutic activities, such as the use of a lap belt when moving someone in a wheelchair, or guiding someone by the arm down a corridor or through a doorway. These are activities that happen many times every day and, if we did not have this exception, staff would have to record such events as a use of force. This would significantly increase the time spent recording which would take staff away from caring for patients.

Baroness Thornton Portrait Baroness Thornton
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Maybe that is the wrong word, then. Maybe the Bill should say “therapeutic” or something which does not allow a loophole which says: “Oh well, that slap was only negligible”. That might be the wrong word to use.

Lord O'Shaughnessy Portrait Lord O'Shaughnessy
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The noble Baroness makes a good point, which is relevant to the point made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee when it reported on the Bill, which I will use this opportunity to address. This was about our proposal that definitions should be within statutory guidance. This determines the appropriate mechanism for making the definition, to ensure that the kind of problems pointed out by the noble Baroness do not arise. The committee noted that the guidance under Clause 6(3) will determine whether a use of force is negligible, and thus affect the legal obligations of responsible persons in mental health units. The committee’s view is that this should be set out in regulations, in order to provide an appropriate level of parliamentary scrutiny. I have replied to the committee on this issue this morning and will share my letter with noble Lords.

We considered whether the meaning of a “negligible” use of force could be set out in regulations or, indeed, on the face of the Bill. However, the range of techniques that may be used for physical interventions alone is many and varied, from the most serious, such as prone restraint, to something as simple as guiding a patient by the elbow down a corridor or through a doorway. Furthermore, what is negligible will generally be a matter of degree rather than kind. It was concluded that the meaning would be more effectively illustrated through example case studies in guidance, which would also allow for more rapid revision to take account of changes in practice. The decision to require “negligible” to be determined in accordance with the guidance was taken to ensure consistency of approach to recording uses of force across the sector. Because the information recorded under Clause 6 will be used for the preparation of national statistics about the use of force under Clause 7, if responsible persons are taking a different approach to recording information—a current problem—that will affect the interpretation and value of the statistics.

The Government accept the committee’s concerns about the sensitive nature of the subject. This is why the Bill imposes constraints on the issue of guidance, one of which is to require the Secretary of State to consult any person he or she considers appropriate. In practice, that will mean consulting experts in the field of restrictive interventions and those with lived experience whom the Government consider appropriate for this type of guidance. It is not usually the case that we go against the advice of the committee, but in this instance we felt that the nuance required around the definitions of “negligible”, combined with the strength of force that is needed to provide consistency for statistics, meant that this particular definition within a form of statutory guidance was the appropriate way forward. I hope that noble Lords will accept that; if further discussion is warranted, I would be happy to follow it up.

My final point is on the issue of deaths of patients, which was at the heart of the questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Harris. There was a lot of debate on Clause 9 in the other place and the clause was revised in Committee, but concerns remained about the timeliness, quality and independence of the investigations that would be made whenever a patient dies following the use of force. As Clause 9 is drafted, if a patient dies or suffers a serious injury in a mental health unit, the responsible person must have regard to any guidance relating to the investigation of deaths or serious injuries published by a list of organisations which are responsible for regulating and monitoring the NHS, such as the CQC. As I said, this means that the NHS serious incident framework is put on a statutory footing. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, gave some examples of how this would work in practice and talked about level 3 investigations. However, prior to that there is a legal duty, under the Mental Health Act, to report the death of a patient to the CQC. After that, an independent investigation should always be considered following the death of a patient in those circumstances.

As the noble Lord pointed out, level 3 investigations under the framework are those that will probably be most suited to these kinds of incidents, where the integrity of an internal investigation is likely to be challenged or where it will be difficult for an organisation to conduct such an investigation internally in an objective manner. I want to be clear that no one involved in the investigation process should be involved in the direct care of the patients affected, nor should they work directly with those involved in the delivery of that care. Following such an investigation, there would of course be an inquest, including a legal duty to report the death to the coroner, who has a duty to investigate violent or unexpected deaths. I hope that gives the noble Lord some reassurance about the objectivity and independence of the investigatory framework that would follow such a death. I am more than happy to discuss that further with him, and to make sure that the point he made is properly reflected: that there is an opportunity not just to investigate individual deaths but to look for thematic issues at a higher level—of the kind that he outlined and indeed used to be responsible for carrying out and which the IPCC used to carry out—which may be suitable for the new health services investigation board that we are introducing. That is something that I would like to discuss further with him.

The noble Lord also briefly asked about support for families. Legal aid is, I believe, the most appropriate way for that support to be offered. The Ministry of Justice has considered this in response to the Dame Elish Angiolini report and will also consider deaths in these settings on the same basis as deaths in prisons and police custody. Again, I hope that provides some reassurance, but if he wants to discuss that further I would be more than pleased to.

I hope that I have addressed all issues and questions raised in the debate today. I just finish by saying how important the Government consider this legislation to be and how much we support the noble Baroness in bringing it forward. Noble Lords have indicated that they do not intend to amend the Bill, and of course we are all conscious of time, but I am more than happy to speak to any noble Lords about remaining questions to make sure that we can put their minds at ease, provide the necessary reassurance and move ahead as quickly as possible.

Baroness Massey of Darwen Portrait Baroness Massey of Darwen
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the Second Reading of this Bill. I have found the debate most moving, which cannot often be said about debates in your Lordships’ House. It has been both interesting and moving, and it is a pleasure to be in the midst of people who are so concerned about vulnerable people—children and adults. I hope that the family of Seni will consider this debate something of a tribute to him and to themselves for all their work in bringing this to our attention and the development of a Bill that could be a very significant piece of progress.

I shall just make a few comments about speeches that noble Lords have made. I liked the very incisive comments of my noble friend Lord Harris and his clarity in talking about the investigation of deaths in custody, based of course on his own vast experience of this. I learned a lot from his speech and I hope that the Minister will take that up further, as there was a lot in there that needs to be looked at again in writing, assessing how it could contribute to any possible future guidance. The noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, also has huge experience of working with vulnerable young people and with mental health issues. He emphasised the need to take account in the guidance of the work of NGOs, which I—and I think all of us—totally support. The noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, and I have worked for years on the issues relating to children and young people and I am glad that she reinforced comments on that, as did other noble Lords, and that she gave her support to the Bill. Her point about consultation with parents is important, as was the issue also raised by my noble friend Lady Thornton about the traumatisation of women who may have been subjected already to violence and be in distress. She also mentioned training in the prevention of the use of restraint.

My noble friend Lady Thornton raised many good points about equality. I think she said that it was “unthinkable and cruel” that people who have problems should be subject to more, and sometimes regular, violence. She recalled the amendments tabled in the other place and said that we should take account of them, and I agree. I am trying not to use the word “negligible” here. At least I can say it. I thank my noble friend for her comments in winding up.

The Minister made some helpful points about the importance of cross-party collaboration in the Bill, and said that more needs to be done. He covered many issues that have been raised today, and I know that he is passionate about this, because we have talked about it. It would be a good idea if we had a full meeting after this debate. Things have come up that we need to tease out the meanings of, like that terrible word “negligible”, and the word “patient” itself, including children in that. What is a child? We need a definition. Is a child someone under 18? In fact, some organisations use “child” to cover up to age 24. Let us get some correct definitions. Let us listen to what my noble friend Lord Harris said, to what all other noble Lords said, and to the NGOs. The Minister is generous to suggest a meeting, and it would be useful, just to tidy up some of the things we have talked about and to reinforce some of the issues. I would appreciate that, and perhaps we can talk about it afterwards.

Having said all that, I thank all noble Lords. I said I was moved by the debate, and I was. We have done justice to a serious and important issue here, and I hope that we will see it move forward a bit more rapidly than I heard the Minister say. I do not know whether that is possible, but we need guidance as quickly as possible, although not rushed guidance. However, with consideration, we can make this into good guidance that will have some impact on the ground where people work and are in mental health units. I also take the point that the people administering this violence may also be suffering somewhat. I am of the view that violence never solves anything at all; we need a different approach to this, which can come only from training, discussion and sympathetic listening to people who are in this position. I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.