Health groups suspend membership of Mental Health Alliance

Published: 24 August 2007

Five organisations representing some 85 per cent of NHS mental health staff have today suspended their membership from the Mental Health Alliance in order to form a coalition to support the modernisation of mental health services.

Over the past eight years the independent Mental Health Alliance has been successful in providing organisations with an effective vehicle to influence legislation and also the Mental Health Bill presently going through Parliament.

At this critical stage in the parliamentary process it is essential that MPs and Lords have clear and unambiguous messages from all stakeholders, it is apparent from the committee stage that this has not been the case. Reluctantly the decision has been taken to suspend memberships of the Mental Health Alliance and to establish a new coalition to prevent potential confusion over different views within the Alliance, and to show support for modern ways of working, exemplified by the Responsible and Approved Clinician's role.

Brian Rogers, Professional Officer, Amicus-Mental Health Nurses Association said:
"The Mental Health Nurses Association has always supported the rights of mental health service users to exercise both choice and preference of how their care is delivered and who delivers it. A 21st Century mental health service has to recognise the choice agenda and be flexible in ensuring that care is sensitive, effective and multi-disciplinary."

Professor Peter Kinderman, British Psychological Society said:
“The best quality mental health care is provided by multidisciplinary teams working together to provide the care people want and need. Today a wide range of experts from a range of professional backgrounds - nurses, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists, as well as psychiatrists – plan care and lead clinical teams. The law should reflect this important clinical reality.”

Julia Scott, Chief Executive, College of Occupational Therapists said:
“We're now in the 21st century and it is quite clear that the growing challenges facing people with mental health issues demand more flexibility on the part of service providers. The case for multi-disciplinary teams to administer safe and effective care is overwhelming and the College is already committed to delivering New Ways of Working to ensure that service users can access the right service at the right time, and they must be backed by legislation that supports this approach.”

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing said:
“The RCN is committed to achieving best services for clients, carers and staff through modern, accessible, patient centred care. Services are today delivered by multidisciplinary teams, with each member of the team being crucial to safe and effective care. Progressive working practices require progressive legislation: we must not miss this opportunity.”

Gail Adams, head of Nursing at UNISON said:
“We are passionate about mental health services and want to see more effective use of the recovery model and non-pharmacological methods of care. We believe that the wider multidisciplinary team is essential to this, it's what health workers are already doing as a direct result of patients demands.”


Notes to Editors

1. This press release has been issued jointly by: AMICUS-MHNA, BAOT, BPS, COT, RCN and UNISON.

2. Amicus-MHNA, BAOT, BPS, RCN and Unison have been members of the Alliance since its inception. We will continue to support the Alliance campaign on other areas of the Bill but feel that our views on multi-disciplinary working can be aired most effectively by suspending our membership at this stage.

3. Our organisations have agreed a memorandum of understanding. If you would like a copy of the memorandum please contact one of the press office numbers below.