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Duty to consult relative

GP v Derby City Council (2012) EWHC 1451 (Admin), (2012) MHLO 58

Rachel Turner represented GP in a successful application for a writ of habeas corpus.

GP claimed that he had been unlawfully detained when the approved mental health professional (AMHP) failed to consult GP’s official Nearest Relative before placing him under a Section 3 order to transfer him to a psychiatric intensive care unit.

Compulsory treatment requires that the official Nearest Relative be consulted prior to an application for a Section 3 order.  In this case, faced with nursing staff concerns about GP’s mental state, the mental health professional dispensed with this consultation after trying several times to contact the Nearest Relative by telephone.

Anyone responsible for the constitutional protection of a person facing detention under the Mental Health Act has a heavy duty to comply with statutory provisions and the decision was therefore deemed unlawful because: the claimant had been stable and there had been no acute deterioration of his condition or significant risk to nursing staff and, under these circumstances and the timescales provided in the order, it would not have been unreasonable to expect the approved mental health professional to drive the 30 minutes the Nearest Relative’s house in an effort to consult them in person.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Rachel Turner

Joint Managing Partner
Joint Head of Mental Health & Capacity Department

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