In January 2021, the Government published a White Paper, setting out its plans to reform the Mental Health Act. The Government invited views on the paper and in July 2021, it published a summary of the consultation responses and its plans to address the issues raised. The proposed reforms aim to ensure mental health service users have choice and autonomy wherever possible, that restrictions on service users’ freedoms are minimised and that opportunities for therapeutic benefit whilst detained are maximised.  The reforms seek to deliver these objectives by altering the rights and responsibilities described in the 1983 Act or by introducing new rights and responsibilities.

This analysis, conducted for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, estimates the likely impacts of Mental Health Act reforms on the workload of psychiatrists and the number of additional psychiatrists that would be required to meet these new obligations. Estimating the impact of the reforms is a prerequisite to adequately resourcing them. Failure to do so will create implementation risks and may inadvertently displace or interfere with other important aspects of a psychiatrist’s role. This issue is particularly important at present when demand for mental health services is high and rising rapidly.