Mental health network

New Mental Health Act code of practice comes into force

Policy dictionary definition

The revised code comes into effect today, 1 April 2015, replacing the 2008 version. The new (2015) Mental Health Act code of practice completed parliamentary scrutiny unchallenged on 6 March.


The revised code seeks to provide stronger protection for patients and clarify roles, rights and responsibilities. This includes involving the patient and as appropriate, their families and carers in discussions about the patient’s care at every stage; providing personalised care; minimising the use of inappropriate blanket restrictions, restrictive interventions and the use of police cells as places of safety. 

Key changes 

  • Five new guiding principles.
  • New chapters on care planning, human rights, equality and health inequalities, consideration of when to use the Mental Health Act and when to use to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and information to be provided to victims of part 3 patients.
  • New sections on physical healthcare, blanket restrictions, duties under section 140, to support patients with dementia or who are immigration detainees, and what to do if the care or the protections of the Act are not being appropriately applied.
  • Significantly updated chapters on the appropriate use of restrictive interventions, including particularly seclusion and long-term segregation, police powers and places of safety and in relation to decisions about whether to discharge or not.
  • Further guidance on how to support children and young people, those with a learning disability or autism, and in relation to part 3 patients.  

Access the code of practice in full

Supporting documentation, including the consultation response, equality analysis and impact assessment can be found on the Department of Health website.

A revised reference guide to the Mental Health Act is available on the Department of Health website.

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