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New law prevents use of force in mental health settings

New law and guidance have been issued to ensure better transparency over the use of force in mental health units.

The new act, known as Seni’s Law, is named after Olaseni Lewis who died because of being forcibly restrained as a mental health patient in 2010.

This legislation is aimed at protecting patients and the workforce by providing a drive for improved record-keeping and data on the use of force, as well as the quality of staff training around issues of force.

It will ensure patients in mental health settings are better protected from inappropriate use of force and sets out measures needed to prevent inappropriate uses of force. New guidance published will ensure that staff have clear advice on how to make sure patients are treated with dignity and respect.

Seni’s Law received royal assent in 2018, and the guidance has been developed in association with those with lived experience, the NHS, regulators, and Aji Lewis and Seni’s family.

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The new law forms part of the wider commitment the government has created to transform mental health services for those with severe mental illness, following the publication of the reforming the Mental Health Act white paper.

Minister for Mental Health Gillian Keegan said: ‘It is vital anyone receiving care in a mental health setting – a time that can be incredibly distressing – is treated with dignity and respect.

‘Today’s legislation and guidance is an important step forward to ending the disproportionate and inappropriate use of force – protecting both patients and our fantastic workforce – within our mental health services.

‘We must ensure what happened to Seni does not happen to anyone else. I want to thank Seni’s family, particularly his mother Aji, and Steve Reed MP for driving this work forward.”

‘Aji Lewis, Seni’s mother, went on to say: ‘It’s so good to see the guidance published today and the act being commenced.

‘This is my son’s legacy, and I hope it will mean what happened to Seni will not happen to anyone else.

‘I look forward to continuing to work with the government and mental health providers to make sure the act is properly implemented and real change is achieved.’

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