The right to appeal

When people are admitted to hospital under a section they can appeal. Appeals tribunals take place in an informal setting within the hospital. The appeal panel consists of a lawyer, a doctor and a lay person. Professionals who supervise the care of the person you care for prepare reports to include the family’s point of view. The ‘nearest relative’ may attend the tribunal and make a contribution, other relatives or friends may also attend as appropriate. The person you care for may be represented by a lawyer. Hospital staff will put you in touch with a lawyer who provides a free service.

What is a Mental Health Tribunal?

A Mental Health Tribunal is an independent additional body who can review a service user’s detention. It is the primary mechanism for appeal against detention under specific sections of the Mental Health Act in hospital or a Community Treatment Order, Conditional Discharge or Guardianship order in the community.

Who is entitled to make as application?

Service users detained under the Mental Health Act have a right to apply for a Mental Health Tribunal. These may include people detained on Section 2, Section 3, Section 37 or a Community Treatment Order however, this not exhaustive list.

How do you make an application and what support is available?

To make an application for tribunal there is a form and support is available on the ward from nursing staff. You can also receive support to make an application from an Independent Mental Health Advocate or your legal representative.

What happens after you have made an application?

Once the application has been submitted the tribunal services will acknowledge your application and at the same time they will request a report from your care team, your doctor, social worker and named nurse. Your nearest relative (non-restricted service user s only) will be informed of your application to the tribunal and will be advised of the date, time and hearing venue. Once the reports have been submitted your legal representative will discuss the reports with you to enable you to prepare your case for the hearing. Finally, before the hearing takes place the medical member of the tribunal panel will come to visit you to complete an assessment and their preliminary examinations.

What happens on the day of the Mental Health Tribunal Panel Hearing?

The hearing is held in private either at hospital where you are detained or in a local community health team office. The tribunal panel consists of three members; the judge, a psychiatrist and a third person who is a lay member and has an interest in mental health. On the day of the hearing the care team who provided the reports will attend the hearing to give evidence. You will be invited to attend the hearing along with your legal representative and also a family member if you have given your permission. Your legal representative and the panel will have the opportunity to cross examine the health and social care professionals. You will also have the opportunity to give your evidence and to ask any questions you may feel appropriate. Once the panel is satisfied that they have heard all the evidence they will take a break to deliberate the evidence. The panel then call everybody back in the room to communicate their decision to you verbally. You will receive written communication of their decision within 7 working days.

What powers are available to the Mental Health Tribunal?

The tribunal has certain powers including the power to discharge a patient from their detention under the Mental Health Act. The tribunal may also make recommendations to the service users care team. This may include suggesting leave arrangements, transferring the service user to another hospital or for the Responsible Clinician to consider making a Community Treatment Order or Guardianship order.

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