A technical issue has been identified in the way some Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) have been administering the process for approving doctors to work under the Mental Health Act.
Doctors who assess patients and make recommendations regarding detention must be approved to do in accordance with the under the Mental Health Act. The Secretary of State has delegated that approval function to SHAs since 2002. However, four out of the ten SHAs asked mental health trusts to carry out the validation and approval process for them, but did not ask for it to be referred back to those Strategic Health Authorities for final confirmation.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
“We believe that all the proper clinical processes were gone through when these patients were detained. They were detained by medically qualified doctors. We believe that no one is in hospital who shouldn’t be and no patients have suffered because of this.
But for the avoidance of any remaining doubt, and in the interests of the safety of patients themselves, as well as the potential concerns of their families and the staff who care for them, we are introducing emergency legislation to clarify the position.”
The processes involved in this issue will be subject to an investigation so that any and all lessons for the future are learned. Not least, the Department wants to learn any lessons to help inform how these processes work from April 2013, when the structure of the NHS changes.