Mental health law briefing 195 – When is a hospital manager’s hearing required?
A question that is often raised at training sessions for Hospital Managers is whether a managers hearing is required if there is a forthcoming tribunal hearing. The answer to this is often dependent on the facts of a given situation but a recent case has considered the issue.
The Claimant was sectioned under the Mental Health Act two days after having given birth. The patient had a history of psychotic illness although she was co-operating with the healthcare team at and around the time of the birth. However, the Mental Health Act assessment referred to her having ongoing delusions and a lack of insight.
The Claimant’s husband tried to get her discharged almost immediately but this was barred by one of the doctors and the matter was referred to a Tribunal. The Tribunal discharged her.
The Claimant sought permission to apply for judicial review. The Court expressed sympathy with the Claimant but made it plain that it was not there to review cases as a court of appeal on the merits. The issue was whether the mental health professionals who made the decision to detain her were acting outside of the boundaries of what was reasonable at the time. The Court declined to give permission on that basis.
Hospital managers hearing
The Court also considered whether the hospital authority should have had a hospital managers’ meeting at an earlier stage to deal with the efforts of the Claimant’s husband to obtain a discharge before the Tribunal hearing.
The Court expressed the view that if the matter had been put off pending a Tribunal hearing that was several months later, it would have had sympathy with this application but as there was little evidence to demonstrate that the hospital managers would have dealt with it more quickly, it was not unreasonable nor did it cause any further inconvenience not to have done so.
The case is helpful in terms of considering the thorny issue of the extent to which a hospital managers’ hearing should take place when there is a pending Tribunal hearing. In this particular case, the Court seems to have taken the view that absent a delay in the Tribunal hearing, the managers could not be criticised for not having held their own hearing.
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 R (Zhang) v Whittington Hospital (2013) EWHC 358
This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.