Note: work on this project is ongoing during the current coronavirus situation, with staff working remotely.
Following a wider government review, the Scottish Ministers specifically asked us to
…develop a system for investigating all deaths of patients who, at the time of death, were subject to an order under either the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 or part VI of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (whether in hospital or in the community, including those who had their detention suspended).
Review of the arrangements for investigating the deaths of patients being treated for mental disorder
When legislative changes were being made through the Mental Health Act 2015, concerns were raised with Ministers that there was not a consistent approach across Scotland to decisions or procedures on whether to review, and how to review, deaths of people who were being detained for care and treatment under these Acts.
While these decisions will always be taken on an individual basis, depending on the circumstances of a person’s death, Ministers wish all Scottish authorities to work to the same system.
Before recommending a new system, we firstly want to hear about how the process works now. We will hear from a range of organisations, including health boards, the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
A vital part of the project will be listening to the personal experience of families and friends. We want to speak to families and carers who may have lost someone in the last five years (from April 2014) who was detained for care and treatment for their mental ill health at the time of their death.
This project should be completed in June 2021. You can see the timescales below, which include a number of opportunities to give us your views.
The new system, once approved by Ministers, will be adopted by all of Scotland’s NHS health boards, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Mental Welfare Commission.
This is what we are hoping to do and when over the next 18 months for the Deaths in Detention Reviews project.
During this time we will focus on current systems and practices, and the experience of families and carers. Amongst our connections with professional organisations we will:
We will make contact with families and carers of people who have died while being detained, and we will seek to raise awareness of this project throughout this period so that others can contact us.
We hope to host a ‘Listening Day’ to hear the views and experiences of bereaved families and carers in autumn 2020 [May 2020 date cancelled]. You can find out more about this and other ways to get in touch with us below. There will be opportunities for families and carers to meet with us throughout this project, individually or in small groups.
We aim to publish a draft report on the new system by Spring 2021, and will spend this phase sharing and discussing that draft system widely, with professional organisations and with families and carers. This will be another opportunity for us to hear the views of those affected.
We will produce a proposed revised system, and deliver a business case and a plan for implementing that system across Scotland to Ministers.
Definitions for notifications of death in detention to the Commission, and plans for the project's engagement with health boards.
If someone you know has died in the last five years whilst detained (subject to an order) under the Mental Health Act or the Criminal Procedures Act we really want to speak to you.
We understand that this might be very hard for you and we would want to help you as much as we can.
There are lots of ways you can get in touch with us.
We are also planning to hold a Listening Day in autumn 2020 where we can meet you in person. We would really appreciate you taking the time to come and tell us about your experience.