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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Statement on Secretary of State’s announcement on emergency changes to Mental Health Act legislation

Embargoed until 29 October 2012

This is of relevance only to doctors who were approved under Section 12 (2) of the MHA and approved as an Approved Clinician in North East, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands, East Midlands

The Royal College of Psychiatrists was informed last week by the Department of Health that 'a technical irregularity' had been identified in some areas of England (North East, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands, East Midlands) in the way that doctors have been approved to detain patients under the Mental Health Act 1983. The issue was a technical irregularity concerning how these doctors were approved to make assessments under the provisions of the Act, as Section 12 Approved Doctors and does not concern their competence.

The College has been working closely with the Department of Health, the relevant Strategic Health Authorities and Trusts to ensure that this irregularity is remedied as speedily as possible, with the minimum of distress. As of Friday 26 October 2012, all the doctors involved in these Strategic Health Authorities have been properly approved and this approval error corrected.

The Department of Health has now received legal advice from the First Treasury Counsel that states that all current and previous detentions under the Mental Health Act 1983 are legal. However, this advice recommends emergency retrospective legislation to provide absolute legal clarity that this is the case. The Department have assured us that in light of the legal advice, the doctors involved should continue their duties and practice as normal.

The Secretary of State announced today (29 October 2012) that the legislation will be a simple and rapid process, and will apply in principle to the approval of all doctors under the Mental Health Act 1983.

The doctors involved have been through a rigorous process to take on these duties and have all been approved to undertake the role of Section 12 Approved Doctors. All of the proper clinical processes were applied when detaining these patients.

Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said, "The safety and welfare of patients is paramount and I am confident this technical irregularly will not affect their care and treatment. I am pleased that the Department of Health has found a rapid solution to this problem. Our members have always acted in good faith and in the best interest of their patients.“

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896


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