SOUTH LANARKSHIRE COUNCIL
CONSULTATION: The Care & Treatment of People with Mental Disorder &
Learning Disability (Scrutiny, Quality Improvement & Protection) Mental
Welfare Commission for Scotland: Future Structure
Currently the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland ( MWCS) are an expert body
on ethical and legal principles in relation to the care and treatment of those with a
mental illness, learning disability or other mental disorder and as such provides a
valuable independent service to service users, carers and organisations across
Scotland who may require their knowledge and support.
Within South Lanarkshire Council, the Mental Health Officer Service in particular
maintains regular contact with the MWCS in discharging their statutory functions and
enjoy a positive working relationship, actively participating in progressing the broader
mental health agenda as far as practicable.
It is acknowledged that the introduction of increased legislative options in providing
care and support to individuals with mental disorder and their carers both within
hospital and appropriate community settings, has had an impact on both the role and
functions of the MWCS and in encouraging alternative approaches in discharging
their protective, scrutiny and improvement functions.
Role of MWCS
Question 1 - Do the protective functions and the scrutiny and improvement
functions of the MWCS in relation to ethical and legal practice that is the
current arrangements, work well together? If not, how should they be
YES the MWCS protective functions and the scrutiny and improvement functions of
the MWCS work well together their particular strength being their independence from
existing NHS and Local Authority services.
It is South Lanarkshire Council's view that while internal changes may be required
to ensure the efficiency of the management, accountability and quality assurance
processes of the MWCS the MWCS role should remain unchanged There is
however a need to strengthen their powers to include enforcement of
recommendations for change and or improvement arising from their investigations.
Question 2 - If you think that the MWCS' current mix of functions does work
well, do you think that the MWCS' role could be combined with other bodies?
For example, with one of the new health and social care scrutiny and
improvement bodies (HIS and SCSWIS)?
NO the MWCS should remain an independent body concerned with the needs of
individuals and continue to offer an expert body on the ethical and legal principles in
relation to the care and treatment of those with a mental illness, learning disability or
other mental disorders.
The systems and processes they adopt to undertake this role may change but their
fundamental independence should be preserved.
Question 3 - How should the general improvement functions in respect of
mental health and learning disability services be discharged, and how should
the MWCS work with the body or bodies that carry out those functions?
The MWCS, while not losing their independence, should have an alignment and work
closely with the new bodies of SWSWIS and HIS. The MWCS primary role being one
of reporting to these new bodies any relevant information and concerns they may
have with respect to the care being received by an individual service user and the
impact this could have on other individuals using the same service.
Question 4 - What processes and structures could be put in place to maintain
the improvement in mental health and learning disability services in the future,
thinking in particular about Crerar's view (see paragraph 6.3 above) that self-
assessment and scrutiny is necessary in the early stages of developing and
Crerar's recommendations for a single scrutiny body and the decision to move
presently towards this goal by initially setting up the two new bodies of SCSWIS and
HIS would appear to be a step in the right direction, in terms of maintaining
improvements in mental health and learning disability services in the future.
To complement these changes consideration could be given to strengthening the
links between MWCS, Mental Health Tribunals and Office of the Public Guardian.
This could be achieved through bringing together reporting information under a set of
shared performance indicators covering both qualitative and quantitative information
Le. service users experience, number and quality of reports, detentions, services
provided by Mental Health Officers etc.
Future MWCS Governance
Question 5 - If the Commissioners have a key role in respect of governance,
what should their functions be in relation to the visiting and protective
functions of the MWCS? Should they change or stay the same?
Comments as noted in response to question 3.
The need to separate the role of MWCS Board members and those of the Mental
Welfare Commissioners who undertake a visiting and protective function would
appear to be appropriate. This would provide for better scrutiny and accountability
with regard to the work undertaken by the MWCS in their interaction with adults at
Question 6 - Should some Commissioners be both on the Board for the
organisation and conduct visits, or should these functions be split with there
being Commissioners who only sit on the Board and Commissioners who only
See Answer to as. MWCS Board should be more accountable for the performance of
there own staff.
Question 7 - Are there other changes that we should consider in respect of
the organisation (not the functions or powers) of the MWCS at this time?
See Answer to Q 4 in terms of strengthening the links between MWCS, Mental
Health Tribunals and Office of the Public Guardian