PE01667: Review of mental health and incapacity legislation


Petitioner: W Hunter Watson


Date Lodged: 03 August 2017

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to conduct a wide review Scottish mental health and incapacity legislation and, when doing so, to take due account of recent developments in international human rights law.

Petition History:


21 September 2017: The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government, the Mental Welfare Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission. The Committee also agreed to ask the clerks to identify additional organisations and representative bodies of those who provide care, from which the Committee may wish to invite written submissions. Link to Official Report 21 September 2017

22 March 2018: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister for Mental Health and, once a response is received, to consider whether to invite the Minister to provide evidence at a future meeting. Link to the Official Report 22 March 2018

25 October 2018: The Committee agreed to invite the Minister for Mental Health to give oral evidence at a future meeting. Link to the Official Report 25 October 2018

21 March 2019: The Committee agreed to reflect on the evidence heard and consider the petition further at a future meeting. Link to Official Report 21 March 2019

21 November 2019: The Committee agreed to close the petition under Rule 15.7 of Standing Orders on the basis that the Scottish Government is undertaking work that addresses the action called for in the petition. It also agreed to write to the Scottish Government. Link to Official Report of Meeting 21 November 2019

Written submissions:

Should the Scottish Parliament legislate to ensure that:

  • medication is not used as restraint in care homes;
  • unwanted medication is not concealed in the food or drink of care home residents;
  • except in an emergency, mental health patients are not detained in hospital without a prior court hearing;
  • no mental health patient is subjected to forced treatment unless it has been established that it is medically necessary;
  • mental health patients have a fair hearing before an independent, impartial and competent tribunal or court at which witnesses are required to give evidence on oath;
  • transcripts of hearings are made available to mental health patients, their representatives and others who have a legitimate interest in them;
  • the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is incorporated into Scottish law?

I have signed this petition on behalf of Autism Rights, whose campaigning work has resulted in the completion of a Scoping Exercise, with a view to a review of the Mental Health Act. We took a full part in this Scoping Exercise, and hope that the Scottish Government will commit to a review of the Act. We campaigned for several years to end the inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders within the provisions of the Mental Health Act. This effectively means that disabled people can be treated, simply for being disabled. A recent Mental Welfare Commission census found that 42% of men with a Learning Disability who are receiving forced treatment do NOT have a diagnosis of mental illness. With the additional problems of misdiagnosis of people on the autistic spectrum, there is a very great danger of the current legislation to people who are on the autistic spectrum. It also has to be said that, on the basis of the almost wholly industry funded research into mental health, that both the diagnostic structure of mental illness and medical necessity of the use of psychotropic drugs are extremely questionable. It is grossly irresponsible, in the light of the evidence, to continue to force anyone, let alone the most vulnerable people, to take some of the most toxic drugs that are available. Please refer to the Autism Rights website and to the articles written for Newsnet Scotland by myself, which I believe have persuaded the Scottish Government that change must happen. Autism and the madness of the Mental Health Act and We should face up to the madness of the Scottish mental health system

Fiona Sinclair

15:37 on 02 Aug 2017

Violation of human rights needs to cease. Too many patients medicated without being made aware.

Marlene Arthur

17:50 on 30 Jul 2017

The Mental Health Act is very unfair and someone can easily be treated for a mental illness which they do not have. The medication can shorten someones life by 15 to 20 years. The Act has led to many injustices. No one including the Mental Welfare Commission will investigate individual cases. There are no effective safeguards. I would like a fresh investigation into several experiences. After examining these experiences it will become clear that the Act needs fundamentally changed or repealed as recommended by the United Nations, also included in the Conservative Party manifesto & Queens Speech in 2017. The following statistics are damning 50 p c of people in retrospect thought forced treatment was wrong for them People taking psychiatric medications die 15-20 years earlier No professional has ever been charged with making a false statement on a document 78 people die each year whilst being compulsory treated 98 p c of Mental Health Tribunals agree with the psychiatrist 44 p c of emergency detentions are illegal.

Andrew Muir

15:06 on 29 Jun 2017

Allowing the legal profession to wade into Mental Health and now dominate hearings protecting the Doctors Authorities Government and Police is the objective, as they are the ones paying their fees There is no proper protection for the mental health patients young or old Proper hearings before an independent impartial panel all documentation transcripts etc available to patients and their families to challenge the diagnosis Mental health laws in Scotland are open to corruption by unscrupulous people in every Profession it is time accountability was the main priority in mental health laws


11:50 on 28 Jun 2017

people with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia do not necessarily need to be medicated. It is about knowledge not clinical need and consultants need to have the ability to get expert advice from a wide range of specialists rather than saying " I believe ... you are paranoid schizophrenic". That belief in itself may be lacking in knowledge and experience and put a lifetime cosh on someone who is perfectly sane. With this diagnosis "knowledge" is as important as not everyone is pyschotic with this diagnosis and it takes 2 years to go through the system before a person can say no to medication and get their life back. The stigma associated with this diagnosis is also horrendous.

Lesley McDade

13:05 on 25 Jun 2017

All transcriptions of tribunals sould be provided free of charge. When a psychiatrist makes a statement to a tribunal, I.e. Patient has been jailed for sexual assault, they should be required to prove this by giving police records, dates etc. Lives are ruin by unscrupulous psychiatrists.

Christine MacVicar

21:57 on 23 Jun 2017

I have signed because my mother was confined in hospital for the last 2 years of her life under a Compulsory Treatment Order. She died because the hospital and social services refused to allow her to regain mobility after a successful hip operation, and refused her physiotherapy and an examination by a specialist. The Mental Health Act was used to remove her from my care without any assessment of risk or of my ability to care for her. The Sheriff Court awarded Guardianship to the Local Authority because I was opposed to her being locked up in hospital. Her wishes to live at home in my care and for me to make any decisions which she could not make, were ignored, as was her vehement opposition to the Council being appointed her Guardian. I appealed both decisions to the Court of Session, because they were not based on law and evidence but on the opinions of a psychiatrist and social workers who were determined to place her in institutional care and refused my offers of compromises and my requests for assessments. Both appeals were refused. Scotland claims to be a champion of human rights, and to have world-leading mental health legislation. Instead it gives psychiatrists and social workers the power to deprive the weak and helpless of their liberty and, in cases like that of my mother, of their lives, instead of allowing them to have control of their own lives.

Barry Gale

21:34 on 23 Jun 2017

(1) As an NHS Psychiatrist working in Scotland for the last 25 years I fully support this petition. (2)Mr Hunter Watson states in this current petition, that a previous petition, PE01494 was closed without discussion and that "I was informed that Committee agreed to close my petition as the consequence of an instruction from a senior official or civil servant." Given the recent review of the Scottish Parliament and concerns that Scottish Government may not have been as effectively held to account as it should be, I would suggest this serious matter is looked into and the findings shared publically. This is a serious matter and it should be established if the Civil Service Code of Conduct has been followed. (3) My petition PE01493, A Sunshine Act for Scotland was closed 15 months. It had public support as established by the SHC consultation. Yet there has been no public update from the Scottish Government in 15 months. This would seem to be a further example of the Scottish Parliament failing to hold the Scottish Government to account.

Dr Peter J. Gordon

12:16 on 23 Jun 2017

The Act is currently illegal. See UN General Comment No 39. Forced treatment is against the human right to refuse treatment. Therefore the act is not human rights compatable as per Scotland Act.

Mrs Claire Patricia Muir

22:29 on 22 Jun 2017

I have submitted this petition in the hope that it will be instrumental in persuading the Scottish Government to legislate to make it unlawful for care homes to conceal antipsychotic drugs in the food or drink of care home residents. That happened to my mother after she entered a care home. She had dementia and the administration of those drugs to a people with dementia greatly increases the risk that they will die early or have a stroke. I would be a prime candidate for surreptitious sedation for two reasons: I would be assessed as being agitated because I would be unable to remain seated all day and would be most unhappy if, like my late mother I was locked inside the home. The other reason is that, like my late mother, I do not take medication so it could only be administered surreptitiously since care home residents, unlike those in mental health hospitals, cannot be held down and injected with drugs against their will. It was such considerations that caused me to begin campaigning but in the course of campaigning I learned more and more about what is wrong with current mental health and incapacity legislation and how people are suffering and even dying horrible deaths as a consequence.

Hunter Watson

21:07 on 22 Jun 2017

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