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Local councillor runs campaign related to consent and capacity in mental health

Wednesday 19 January 2022

A local councillor is currently running a petition related to consent and capacity in mental health.
Dr Shery Delfani, a Councillor for West Bletchley Council, is specifically campaigning in Climate Change Anxiety and Mental Health Matter, campaigning for healthcare professionals to be able to break confidentiality if a mentally ill person’s life is in danger from suicide.

In a statement on the petition, she explains further that: “The aim of this petition is to raise awareness of the current issues revolving around vulnerable patients lacking capacity to consent to the disclosure of confidential information to their relatives or carer and prevent unnecessary and avoidable deaths as a consequence of this issue.”

Shery was first inspired to start the campaign in October of 2019, when 48-year-old Golam Reza threw himself under a train, after two years of struggle with depression and two suicide attempts.

In a further statement in November 2020, she explained that “sadly we all noticed the high numbers in suicide level across MK and in general nationally during the pandemic. While it is true that confidentiality is a duty of all healthcare professionals, sometimes patients are extremely vulnerable and lack the mental capacity to make an informed consent to the disclosure of information to their family or carer. Families or carers of such patients have a crucial role in decision making and care in the patient’s best interests, and therefore will not be able to carry out their role as information is not disclosed to them due to “confidentiality”.

This can result in severe consequences in vulnerable patients, such as deterioration in the mental or physical condition as well as suicides. To avoid such unnecessary and avoidable deaths, we need to assess patient’s capacity more accurately and consider their vulnerabilities level when deciding whether to disclose patient information to families or carers.

If the decision of not disclosing patient information to family or carer is made due to justifiable reasons, it is crucial to monitor the patients mental and physical health after discharging them into the community on their own, instead of leaving them unattended. In addition, we need primary care doctors (GPs) to routinely follow up these vulnerable patients who are both at high risk to themselves and others after being discharged from secondary care.”

Along with more information about the campaign, the full petition is available here: https://www.change.org/p/secretary-of-state-for-health-and-social-care-confidentiality-consent-and-capacity-in-mental-health.