When is a section not a section?

Baroness Murphy

Yesterday afternoon we passed emergency legislation, introduced into the house and passed in one day, including receiving Royal Assent. This is a relatively rare occurrence. It can only happen if all parties agree to the urgent necessity. The Mental Health (Approval Functions) Bill came about because the Government discovered that 4 out of 10 Strategic Health Authorities have since 2002 been delegating to Mental Health Trusts their powers to approve doctors as qualified to detain patients under the Mental Health Act. So for 10 years no less, thousands of detentions under the Act were unwittingly but possibly illegal. The decisions to detain patients were however made in good faith by doctors and other professionals who had no idea they had not been correctly approved and indeed the process of approval by specially trained panels was the same as if the approval process has not been incorrectly delegated. Complicated huh?

Everyone agrees, including the voluntary organisations that represent patients interests, that there was no option but to give retrospective approval to these doctors to ensure that their actions were legal. So the Bill does just that. Questions remain…how did these health authorities get the approval delegation scheme so wrong? One of the most grave powers doctors have is to deprive mentally ill patients of their liberty under certain prescribed circumstances; ensuring that these doctors are skilled and experienced is a serious responsibility. The reason the regulations do not sanction the delegation of approval by Authorities to Mental Health Trusts is because these Trusts are the very same body responsible formally for detaining patients and hearing appeals against detention. It is important that patients perceive no conflict of interest in the various roles in relation to their detention. Lord Pannick raised a concern that the legislation is exceptionally broad…a blanket sanction of past approvals. I sympathised with that point but I fear that there may have been earlier authorities making the same mistake and the Government has no way of identifying them, hence the catch all.

How will this administrative thoughtlessness be conveyed to patients who believed their detentions were all above board? And by the way, the courts may well decide that the detentions were legal anyway? It won’t improve patients’ confidence in the “sectioning” system. I am pleased that the government has announced a full inquiry is to be conducted into how the error occurred and to ensure there are no other authorities making similar delegations.

 

 

 

19 comments for “When is a section not a section?

  1. Lord Blagger
    01/11/2012 at 12:40 pm

    So for 10 years no less, thousands of detentions under the Act were unwittingly but possibly illegal. The decisions to detain patients were however made in good faith by doctors and other professionals who had no idea they had not been correctly approved and indeed the process of approval by specially trained panels was the same as if the approval process has not been incorrectly delegated. Complicated huh?

    ===========

    Complicate? Illegal. Criminal. Violations of human rights.

    Bloody expensive. Now you’re going to force us to pay compensation because you’ve been incompetent.

    So much for a ‘revising chamber’ to get legislation correct.

    How about some ‘those who are responsible’ will pay?

    Ah you don’t do recompense out of your own pocket, do you?

    Look at social services, the SS, and their attitude.

    Secret decisions. When its wrong? Ah yes, we won’t apply the human rights act about right to a family life, because, we’ll we’ve given children away. Argentina? Yep its illegal. UK? Oh no, we won’t talk about it.

    All down to laws you’ve ‘revised’.

  2. Rhodri Mawr
    01/11/2012 at 12:44 pm

    how did these health authorities get the approval delegation scheme so wrong? One of the most grave powers doctors have is to deprive mentally ill patients of their liberty under certain prescribed circumstances;

    I can certainly provide amusing anecdotal evidence of its wrongness.

    To imagine that a malpractising and negligent surgeon consultant can securely lock up a patient who complains vociferously that he has not agreed to the procedure inflicted, and that it is malpractice on him is just such a travesty of rightness that it beggars belief.

    The word “professional” malpractice with reference to a consultant means CRIMINAL,seriously criminal.

    It is true that he may be well insured and that since the days of more effective anesthertics in the 1830s, insurance for theft and other things besides, has taken preference over the reinstatment of the lost items.

    In the case of lost good health due to the “professionalism” I describe above, it should surely not be so?

    By way of example police are not interested nearly as much in the repossession of burnt out vehicles as providing the details to the insurance companies for client compensation.

    I would prefer the original vehicle unimpaired! (sorry about that analogy!) and if I can’t have it, then proceedings for crime should be taken.

  3. maude elwes
    01/11/2012 at 4:02 pm

    Baroness, I believe what you are saying is, that parliament has taken the opportunity to safeguard itself from possible lawsuits by those who have been illegally held under a section by doctors who are either not qualified to give such an order, or, were illegally engaged in activity of this kind, that could have affected all of us should we be unfortunate enough to be faced with mental illness.

    What a horror this is. That such a move was made by any government to cover those illegalities and to therefore, deny redress to those legitimately seeking it. Tell me this doesn’t sound like a banana republic. No wonder we are sending millions of our tax money to places like Uganda. We are one and the same.

    How many have been held against their will and against the necessity for it? Anyone had a look at that?

    And who may have been making a nice little sideline out of the game to keep those borderline cases locked up for the state to pay the ‘private’ companies £160,000 a year to keep them their.

    Now lets see how many are going to be blown out of this nasty little closet.

    Winterbourne must have alerted those in the know to this charade of duplicitous Mr Bumble’s of the Beadle’s brigade.

    Or, is there a miracle situation, akin to the many we seem to have had since 1997, where all those denied their liberty were correctly diagnosed and placed in section for their own best interest. I would take a wager not.

  4. Senex
    01/11/2012 at 7:56 pm

    I confess some confusion when you say ‘doctors’. In hospitals and community are you saying doctors work alone to section patients because this is what is coming across.

    My understanding is that a mental health team comprising of a doctor plus a relative and social worker and sometimes a psychiatric doctor must agree together that a section is in the best interests of both the patient and public on safety grounds. As for Lord Pannick’s comments, Primary Legislation is by definition broad in its interpretation.

    Perhaps he means that broad is an understatement in this case? The situation in the Community places both doctors and relatives in a dreadful position because patients have often self harmed or have a record of self harm and/or self neglect before sectioning is considered and even then its done in resignation as an absolute last resort.

    Doctors do NOT make the decision alone! But they may be the authorising signatory.

    • maude elwes
      02/11/2012 at 1:59 pm

      @Senex:

      Come on, we all know the others can’t do a thing without the Doc signing the form of authority. And the reason they have a group is to cover each others behind. A back up should someone decide to take a look at what is going on.

      Similar to the Musketeers, one for all and all for one.

  5. Rhodri Mawr
    01/11/2012 at 9:35 pm

    Ha!Ha!Lawsuits in parliament; that would be something of a surprise!

  6. Lord Blagger
    01/11/2012 at 9:55 pm

    Quite. You’ve noticed it too.

    We locked you up illegally, but we’re going to change the law to deprive you of compensation.

    Just as the treasury plan is not to pay out on the state pension. Deprive lots of people of that.

    • Rhodri Mawr
      03/11/2012 at 10:18 am

      Blagger shows up the lack of integrity of the state as usual.

      It would not be so bad if the operation had not been botched and left me with a permanent weeping injury.

      With that particular op they are botched and they die straight away, especially if they have signed an organ donor card.

      The surgeon in question persuaded me to signa form that I understood what the cost of operation was!!!!!!!! That was the NHS.
      as though there were something good or healing about it, merely because of cost!

      The internal tribunal for complaints of malpractice, without investing £15,000 for starters, with a solicitor, is run by a surgeon with grime so deep in his fingernails
      one wondered whether that was why he had to stop operating.

  7. Rhodri Mawr
    02/11/2012 at 10:10 am

    To give powers of incarceration or sectioning to people who are employees of a state monopoly
    and who also have powers over the benefit income of the individual, is surely very unwise indeed. Even more unwise is the individual to get involved with it. Let the “buyer” beware!

  8. Charles Crane
    02/11/2012 at 12:18 pm

    The perils of distinction, of course, are that you never know who will look you up when the passenger list arrives for your next holiday. I promise to leave you alone, although I was interested to read of your work in relation to assisted dying.

    • maude elwes
      02/11/2012 at 1:53 pm

      @Charles Crane:

      Medics I know call the bonus they receive for the signing the dead away, as their ‘ash cash.’

      I wonder what the medics for the mentally ill nick name locking the sick up indefinitely to ensure a good result?

  9. Sharon
    02/11/2012 at 7:59 pm

    That’s right, blame it on other people again instead of yourselves in parliament for not doing your jobs properly. Typical. Why don’t you rush it through parliament that those of us who have a hidden illness are deemed as ill as those who have a visible one and are treated on an equal footing? Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t make it not exist and I’m sick of hearing stories from people who have a neighbour of a neighbour that is disabled but doesn’t look it, sickening.

    • maude elwes
      05/11/2012 at 2:08 pm

      A cancer Professor, Mark Glaser, in the Daily Mail this morning, tells the truth, for once. He makes it clear many people entering hospital are placed on the ‘Care Pathway’ as a way of slaughtering the sick for the State without any come back to the perpetrators. So, one can assume, they are able to collect their well deserved ‘Ash Cash’ Now how did this man find the courage to be so open I wonder? Well done him. And more, the Mail to print his warning.

      You could use the term Holocaust here one thinks. Not much difference between gas showers and withdrawal of food and water from the living Or, is there? Read all about it.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227863/Cancer-expert-treated-Mo-Mowlam-brands-Liverpool-Care-Pathway-corrupt-practice-British-medicine.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

  10. Gareth Howell
    05/11/2012 at 11:26 am

    Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t make it not exist

    Which puts 1.5m “ME” syndrome sufferers within the pale I suppose?

    There are so many symptoms chucked in to ME that it is the most amazing set of problems to suffer from, BUT you may not be able to see it.

    Let’s add another symptom as follows (it is after all described by Sharon as
    ” being sick”
    I’m sick of hearing stories from people who have a neighbour

    Sick of being sick? ME!

  11. Lord Blagger
    05/11/2012 at 7:18 pm

    1.5 million ME.

    2.5 million Disabled up from 1 million.

    Are all the extra disabled suffering from ME?

  12. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    06/11/2012 at 7:00 pm

    Charles Crane…ah, I’ve our list too now….!

    • Lord Blagger
      12/11/2012 at 10:40 am

      Quite.

      Just to explain. Technical Administrator Error.

      We locked up people illegally, so we are going to make it legal retrospectively so they can’t get any compensation for their incarceration.

      Ho hum. Nothing like passing a law to make your illegal acts legal is there.

      Next, it will be passing a law to make fraud legal, when committed by politicians.

      After all that’s the plan for the state pension

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