Skip to main content

No voice unheard, no right ignored – a consultation for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions

Statement made on 6 March 2015

Statement UIN HCWS355


The Government is today publishing the consultation paper ‘No voice unheard, no right ignored – a consultation for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions.’

A lot of work has been done over the last two and a half years to improve the lives of people with mental health needs, learning disability and autism and to realise the vision of everyone being treated with dignity and respect by health and care services and enjoying the same rights as anyone else.

However the scale and pace of change for individuals that we all wanted to see has not yet happened. We have to go further. We want to consider how we can make sure that the rights, incentives, responsibilities and duties in the system ensure that change is delivered everywhere and no-one can fall through the gaps any longer.

Above all, we want to see four things:

  • People in charge, supported by family and friends – not as passive patients or “prisoners” of a system, as they so often feel they are;
  • Inclusion and independence in the community – people should not routinely be sent away from their homes and communities or to institutions which restrict access to their community or to inappropriate care;
  • The right care in the right place –there should be real person centred planning with the individual themselves at the heart; and
  • Very clear accountability and responsibility throughout the system – there can be no excuses for a lack of clarity over responsibility or for people falling through the gaps between services.

The consultation sets out a series of proposals on how changes might be made. We hope that this will mark a step change – and help to secure the rights that everyone deserves. We also hope that this strengthens further the drive for parity of esteem for all those with mental health needs.

The consultation seeks to explore views on a range of proposals intended to strengthen or build upon existing policies. It also seeks views on proposals developed in response to:

  • issues raised during the 2014 consultation on the Mental Health Act Code of Practice regarding the Mental Health Act primary legislation; and
  • some of the recommendations of the 2015 National Audit Office report Care Services for People with Learning Disabilities and Challenging Behaviour.

It sets out a range of potential ideas rather than a single package of measures which necessarily need to be taken together, and therefore seeks views on which of the measures would be likely to have most impact.

The scope of the consultation primarily relates to:

(i) assessment and treatment in mental health hospitals for people (all age) with learning disability or autism;

(ii) adult care and support, primarily for those with learning disability but also for adults with autism (and the links to support for children and young people); and

(iii) all those to whom the Mental Health Act currently applies (including children and young people).

Other elements, particularly where they relate to the Care Act 2014, may be of relevance to adults in receipt of social care, including those with other disabilities.

Some of the proposals relating to possible amendments to the Mental Health Act are not intended to apply to patients under Part 3 of the Mental Health Act (those who have entered via the criminal justice system). This is because of those patients’ particular needs and the important responsibility of the Secretary of State for Justice and the National Offender Management Service in relation to public protection. This is set out in each relevant section.

This is a consultation by the Department of Health in England. However, the Mental Health Act applies across England and Wales and any changes to the law in Wales would have to be agreed by the National Assembly for Wales.

Hidden impairments like autism, learning disability and mental ill health can be harder to see, and therefore easier to ignore. But, as a civilised society we simply cannot continue to ignore or tolerate people getting the wrong care or treatment any more than we would for people with heart disease or cancer.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks from 6 March 2015 to 29 May 2015. An Easy Read version of the consultation is also available.

A copy of the Command Paper (number 9007) entitled ‘No voice unheard, no right ignored – a consultation for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions’ is attached and is available in the Library.

Linked statements

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords

Department of Health
No voice unheard, no right ignored – a consultation for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions
Earl Howe
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health
Conservative, Excepted Hereditary
Statement made 6 March 2015