Compulsory orders ‘safety blanket’ for some patients

June 1, 2021

Some mental health patients should be able to remain under compulsory treatment orders but with yearly reviews, NZNO’s mental health nurses section (MHNS) suggests.

The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment Bill 2021 includes the proposed elimination of indefinite compulsory treatment orders, as recommended by the 2018 He Ara Oranga mental health and addiction inquiry.

Instead, if a patient is deemed unfit to be released, an order can only be extended for 12 months, the bill proposes.

But this could “devastate” some patients, the MHNS committee said in a submission in May.  “…there are a number who see being under compulsory treatment as a safety blanket for quick brief access to inpatient treatment to keep them relatively stable and would be devastated to have to return to court every 12 months”.

Instead, the amended bill should oblige clinicians to consider patient requests to remain on compulsory treatment orders, and these documented as a “renewed informed consent”. In deciding, a judge must give effect, or grant, such requests, proposed the section.

A report on the bill is due in October.