Guidance published for mental health settings to implement restraint law

Woman in jail cellsources: Nursing Times
published: 1 November 2018

The government has today published long-awaited guidance to support the implementation of new legislation which seeks to prevent inappropriate use of physical force against mental health patients.

Seni’s Law, also known as the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018, will officially come into force on 31 March 2022, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed. The move was prompted by the death of Olaseni Lewis, a 23-year-old Black man who died in 2010 after prolonged restraint by police officers on a mental health ward in Beckenham.

The legislation was campaigned for by Mr Lewis’s family and local MP for Croydon North, Steve Reed.

Having received royal assent in November 2018, nurses raised concerns earlier this year about delays to the law, which the government had said had been caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as reported by Nursing Times.

Today marked the “commencement” of the act, accompanied by the publication of new guidance for implementing the law. According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the legislation will be brought into force on 31 March, allowing time for mental health settings to prepare for the new requirements.

Nurses have welcomed the move but warned that to ensure the legislation is “properly implemented”, mental health nurses must be “well-resourced and supported”.

The aim of Seni’s Law is to protect patients in mental health settings from inappropriate use of physical force, and ensure greater accountability and transparency in regards to restraints in mental health settings.

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