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Govt outlines ‘landmark’ mental health care legislation

The Government yesterday announced the commencement of ‘landmark’ legislations that will change the way mental health care is provided on the Rock.

The Mental Health Act 2016 and the Lasting Powers of Attorney and Capacity Act 2018 have both commenced and aim to ensure people are safeguarded.

The Minister for Health, Care and Justice, Neil Costa, said it was a “personal pleasure” to announce the legislations that build on the Governments “commitment towards the most vulnerable members of our society”.

The new Mental Health Act is primarily concerned with the circumstances in which a person with a mental health condition can be detained for treatment.

It sets out the processes that must be followed and the safeguards for patients to ensure that they are not inappropriately detained or treated. The Act ensures that people with serious mental conditions, which threaten their health or safety or the safety of the public, can be treated where it is necessary to prevent them from harming themselves or others.

The main changes to the Mental Health Act are creating a new independent Mental Health Board and the introduction of Community Treatment Orders for patients following a period of detention in hospital to assist in their transition back into the community.

The Act will also see an overhaul of the Mental Health Review Tribunal by giving greater access to the patient. The patient now has a right to legal representation before the Tribunal and the Tribunal now has greater powers to review the case of a patient and to order their discharge where appropriate.

The Lasting Powers of Attorney and Capacity Act builds on the Mental Health Act.

The Attorney Act allows people who think they may at some point lack the capacity to manage their health, welfare, property and financial affairs to confer authority on individuals.
These individuals will be able to make certain decisions on their behalf and to allow for the creation and safeguards and registrations of Lasting Powers of Attorney.

The Attorney Act will also make provision for a person to be able to decide about specific treatment they may not want to receive in future, known as ‘Advanced Decisions’.

“I am thankful to my predecessor as Minister for Health, Dr John Cortes, for having led the multidisciplinary team that researched, drafted and consulted on the legislative changes to the Mental Health regime and presented the Bill on that Act before Parliament,” Mr Costa said.

“His and his teams’ work on this was exemplary. I would also like to thank psychologist Dr Alan Lillywhite and our excellent professionals at the Gibraltar Health Authority, the Elderly Residential Services and the Care Agency, for all their work.”

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