Being sectioned

What happens when you are under section?

Treatment

The team caring for you should always talk to you about your treatment, including medication. The treatment should be explained to you in a way you understand and the team should try to get your agreement.

If you are under Section 2 or Section 3 and you refuse to take medication, the law allows the team to make you take it. If after three months you still do not want to take the medication (or you are not able to make the decision) a Second Opinion Appointed Doctor (SOAD) will visit you on the ward. This doctor is completely independent of your hospital doctor and will decide what medication you need. Your hospital doctor should then explain to you why the SOAD has made that decision.

Leave

If you are on a section, any time you have away from the ward, needs to be agreed by the Responsible Clinician looking after you. This is called Section 17 leave.

If you are given leave, you should be told how much leave you have and whether you need a nurse or someone else to be with you. If you do not follow any conditions attached to your leave, for example returning by an agreed time, the police may bring you back to the hospital.

Can I appeal against my section?

If you are on Section 2 you must appeal within the first 14 days of the section. There are appeal rights against Section 2 and Section 3 and the nurse who gave you information when you were sectioned should have told you about these rights. The leaflet you were given tells you about these rights too.

Appeals to the Tribunal

Under Sections 2 and 3 you can appeal to the Mental Health Review Tribunal. The Tribunal is completely independent of the hospital and you are entitled to legal aid if you want a solicitor to help you put your case to the Tribunal.

You will be told where and when the Tribunal takes place. The Tribunal will consider reports written by members of your care team. The Tribunal will also hear your views or you can ask your solicitor to represent you. At the end of the tribunal it will be decided whether your section will end or not.

Appeals to the Hospital Managers

You can also appeal against your section to the Hospital Managers. In SLaM, these people are called Associate Hospital Managers. They are appointed by the Trust Board but should not be confused with people who are employed by the Trust as managers.

You will be told when and where your Managers Hearing is to be held. Reports by members of your care team will be presented to the panel of three managers, and the panel will also want to hear your views. At the end of the hearing the panel will decide whether to end your section or not.

Ending sections

If you are under Section 2 or Section 3 your Responsible Clinician can decide to end your section at any time if he or she thinks you are well enough. Your section could also be ended by the Tribunal or the Hospital Managers after they have considered your case.

A Section 2 cannot last longer than 28 days and cannot be extended. A Section 3 is sometimes extended beyond six months if your Responsible Clinician feels that you are still unwell and you need further treatment in hospital.

Nearest relative

The Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) gives important rights and responsibilities to someone called the patient's nearest relative. Not every patient has a nearest relative but if you have one the Approved Mental Health Professional (who sectioned you) told you who that person is.

Normally it will be your partner (if you have one) or a family member. Your nearest relative is not always the person you would choose to be your next of kin. If you are unhappy with who has been identified, or do not want them to know about your care and treatment, please tell a member of the care team looking after you.

Your nearest relative does have the right in law to ask for your section to be ended. If they do request this, your Responsible Clinician has up to 72 hours to consider the request and decide whether it is safe for you to leave hospital.

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