The use of Guardianship orders under the Mental Health Act fell by 20 per cent in England in 2012/13, according to figures released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The number of new Guardianship cases over the year totalled 270. This is the third consecutive year that the number of new Guardianship cases has fallen, following a 21 per cent fall in 2011/12 and a three per cent fall in 2010/11. The number of continuing cases was 620 at the end of March 2013, 34 per cent lower than the 2004/5 total of 940 (the highest figure within the 10 year time series included in today’s report).

Guardianship allows a local social services authority or named individual to take certain decisions on behalf of a person with a mental disorder being cared for in the community, to protect their welfare or the welfare of others. Decisions might include where the person lives, or appointments they need to attend.

As well as a decline in the use of Guardianship orders, there has also been increased use of newer pieces of legislation to promote the welfare of people who have a mental disorder which presents a risk to themselves or others such as Community Treatment Orders and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

Guardianship under the Mental Health Act 1983, England, 2013 also shows that in 2012/13:

  • Local authorities in the North West had the highest number of new cases for the second year running, with a total of 76. This was equivalent to 11 new cases per million of their population, the highest rate of nine regions in England. North West Guardianship cases accounted for over a quarter (28 per cent) of all new cases across England.
  • The East Midlands, East of England and London had the lowest rates of new Guardianship cases. They each reported fewer than two new cases per million population and representing 3 per cent, 4 per cent and 5 per cent respectively of the total new cases across England for 2012/13.
  • All regions, with the exception of the North West and North East, reported a lower number of continuing cases at the end of the year than in 2011/12.
  • For continuing cases, the North West had the highest number at 183 and the highest rate at 26 per million of its population. London had the lowest number of continuing cases at 21 and the lowest rate at three per million.
  • Looking at cases that closed during the year, Guardianship cases in the East of England had the longest average length at 38.5 weeks, 15 weeks longer than the England average of 23.5 weeks.

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