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GN Law Media: Remote Mental Health Act assessments

The High Court has now ruled that when the Mental Health Act 1983 uses the term ‘personally seen’ (in the context of assessing people for compulsory detention under the Act) it means that people MUST be seen in person (rather than over a video link). Therefore, Approved Mental Health Professionals and Doctors carrying out Mental Health Act assessments must do so while the potential patient is in the same room as them.

Following the judgment in Devon Partnership NHS Trust v SSHSC [2021] EWHC 101 (Admin), NHS England issued, 'Legal advice on remote MHA assessments' dated 27th January 2021.

This legal advice states that:

  1. ‘The ruling applies to Part II of the Mental Health Act only, and not Part III of the Mental Health Act.
  2. It applies to both new assessments for detention and section renewals (including Community Treatment Order renewals).
  3. Individuals who are currently detained following a remote assessment will need to be reassessed in person, if ongoing detention is deemed necessary.’

It also identifies, ‘Immediate action required’:

  1. ‘Stop using remote methods for any new or ongoing assessments for detention or section renewals under Part II of the Act.
  2. All mental health providers should identify and reassess individuals who are currently detained under Part II of the Mental Health Act following a remote assessment as soon as possible, if ongoing detention is deemed necessary.
  3. We also recommend notifying people who were detained via remote assessment, but have since been discharged from their section, that this Court ruling has now passed.’

This is a welcome judgment that makes the legal position clear on how mental health assessments are to take place. If you have any queries about assessments under the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended) then please do not hesitate to contact any member of our team here at GN Law.

Katarzyna Podkowik, Consultant Solicitor

Posted on Monday, 8th February 2021