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Mental health law briefing 236 – Highlights from the Annual Mental Health Conference 2016

For those who missed our Annual Mental Health Conference last month, or whose memories benefit from a little jogging, a very brief outline:

Peter Mant of 39 Essex Street took us through the developments in the Court of Protection in the last 12 months. For anyone still uncertain whether a trust can judicially review its own hospital managers — the answer for now seems to be yes, in exceptional circumstances. You may want to apply for a stay, use s.5 holding powers and speak to your lawyer first though!

We have recently reminded you of the importance of compliance with the Mental Health Act Code of Practice, and this was powerfully driven home by Mat Kinton of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The ‘bedding in period’ for the new Code of Practice is over, and CQC reviewers will want to see that policies and practice have been updated accordingly — particularly seclusion policies. Patient input into care plans was highlighted as an area where uptake has been ‘poor’; reviewers will ideally want to see records of discussions with the patient about their care plan, not just ‘boiler plate’ documents.

The ever-popular subject of Deprivation of Liberty (DoL) was explored by Simon Burrows of Kings Chambers, with an entertaining account of the attempted High Court rebellion against the definition of a DoL in Cheshire West. Before readers get their hopes up, or throw away their DoLs forms, the Court of Appeal put a stop to it. The definition is still objective: is the person subject to continuous supervision and control, and are they free to leave?

An insight into the mental health law issues which keep consultants psychiatrists awake at night was provided by Dr Anupam Kishore from Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust. How much information does a patient need to consent to informal admission on a mental health unit? How often does capacity to consent to treatment need to be assessed during admission or detention? All this, and the shadow of the Coroner’s court, provided plenty of scope for nocturnal musings…

And finally, our own Andrew Parsons, Partner and Head of Healthcare – Providers, spoke about common concerns in mental health, particularly the growing trend in prosecution of care providers. With the new offence of corporate neglect leading to increasingly sizeable fines, strategies for dealing with potential prosecutions have become all the more important.

We are very grateful to all the speakers for sharing their time and expertise.

For advice on any of the above issues, please contact:

Andrew Parsons
Partner and Head of Healthcare – Providers
T. 020 7227 7040

November 2016

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