Stop the Coerced treatment for people with mental health needs in receipt of welfare benefits

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
18 December 2015

The fundamental principle to consent for treatment is under threat; the government have asked Dame Carol Black to undertake a review on whether people suffering long term conditions should be deprived of benefits if they don’t accept treatment.

The implied threat to mental health patients, is the withdrawing of benefits if they refuse treatment.

The giving of consent to treatment must be free from undue influence otherwise it is meaningless otherwise the trust between the patient and the health professional will diminish and the health provider risks becoming a coercive agent of the state.

The threat to remove benefits if people refuse treatment is unethical and the imposition of psychological therapy as a means of reducing benefits is invalid and contradicts the values and principles of the health care profession.

Further, the decision to locate health providers in job centres in order to provide therapeutic care is ill-judged and puts our members at risk.

Further therapy should be provided in a health or non-stigmatising setting in a relevant location.

Conference instructs the SGE to undertake the following actions:

1)Seek an urgent meeting with the NMC and the British Psychological Society to discuss the consequences of health professionals being forced to undertake such action.

2)Seek guidance from the NMC with regards to those parts of the code of conduct that apply

3)Produce guidance for UNISON members who wish to refuse to participate in any treatment which is forced or coerced as a condition of welfare payment.

4)Produce guidance for UNISON members who wish to refuse to participate in or collude in any action which contributes to sanctions which could be damaging to patients physical and mental health