Mental health nurses demand end to delays to new patient restraint law

Houses of Parliamentsources: Nursing Times
published: 10 February 2021

New legislation that seeks to end the inappropriate use of physical force against mental health patients must be implemented without further delay, a leading nurse has warned.

Prompted by the death of Olaseni Lewis, a 23-year-old Black man, Seni’s Law received royal assent in November 2018 but has still not been brought into force.

The government said the Covid-19 pandemic had meant the work on rolling out the legislation – officially called the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 – had to be paused but this had now been resumed.

Evri Anagnostara, chair of the Mental Health Nurses Association at the union Unite, is among those who have been piling pressure on the government to end the delays.

She was one of the signatories to a letter that was sent to mental health minister Nadine Dorries at the end of 2020 raising concern about the “unusually long” wait for implementation.

Speaking to Nursing Times, Ms Anagnostara, who is also head of nursing at a mental health trust in London, said mental health nurses were “100%” supportive of the proposals.

Under the legislation, mental health units will have to keep a record of every instance of force used against a patient including the reason for the use of force and a description of the outcome.

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