Campaigners have hailed the passing of the Mental Health Bill as a 'missed opportunity'.

Their main complaint was over community treatment orders, which force patients to take treatment after being discharged from hospital.

The Commons added three further amendments to the long-awaited bill before voting to accept it last week. These boost diversity rules and allow responsible clinicians to renew community treatment orders with the support of an involved professional.

Despite the last-minute concessions, the Mental Health Alliance described the bill as 'disappointing'.

Alliance chair Andy Bell said people with mental health problems would be treated as 'second class citizens'.

Campaigners were also disappointed that the bill did not specifically exclude diagnoses of mental illness on the grounds of sexual preference.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Andrew McCulloch called it a 'missed opportunity to provide truly progressive health legislation'.

This will be taken care of through plans to invest in mental health services, according to Ivan Lewis, the minister with responsibility for mental health.

A public consultation will take place in the autumn on the code of practice and regulations that underpin the legislation.

  • HSJ's Mental Health Forum 2007 is in London on 12 September.

www.hsj-mentalhealthforum.co.uk