NHS England has published updated guidance to help commissioners, GPs and providers support mental health patients exercising their legal rights to choose who provides their care and treatment.
This follows extensive consultation on the interim guidance published earlier this year.
In April 2014 the Government established for people with mental health conditions the same legal right to choice of provider as has existed for several years in physical health, representing a major step towards realising parity between physical and mental health.
NHS England published interim guidance in May 2014 and consulted widely on this.
In response to the feedback received, the guidance has been updated to ensure that it provides the clarity that commissioners, GPs and providers need. In addition a set of clinical scenarios to illustrate how mental health patients’ legal rights should work in practice have been published.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s National Medical Director, explained the guidance should enable patients’ rights to be applied with consistency, while also acknowledging the need for clinical judgments and decisions according to individual patients’ circumstances and needs.
He said: “The changes in law that have given patients with mental health conditions the same legal rights as they have in physical health services are significant steps towards parity and increasing patients’ control over their care. Everyone working in mental health has a part to play to make these legal rights work well for patients.”
Minister for Care and Support, Norman Lamb MP, said: “I am absolutely determined to achieve equality between mental and physical health care. That’s why, for the first time, we’re making sure anyone referred for mental health treatment has the right to choose who provides their care, as is the case with physical health.
“This guidance is an important step in helping health and care providers support people with mental health problems to make informed decisions about their care.”
Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s Director for Long Term Conditions, said: “Advancing Parity of Esteem means creating the same expectations for mental health services as have been promoted for other services in recent years. Choice is such an expectation and to be welcomed.”
- The guidance is available on the NHS England website here. Further resources to support healthcare professionals to embed these patient rights will be published on the website as they become available.