You can apply to the mental health tribunal if you disagree with a decision to ‘section’ or detain someone in a psychiatric hospital.
The tribunal can release (‘discharge’) the patient or recommend they are:
- transferred to a local hospital
- considered for treatment in the community
The patient is sometimes allowed some time out of the hospital, to see if they’re ready for life in the community.
The tribunal deals with cases in England and Wales. Scotland has its own tribunal.
You can also apply to the tribunal if you disagree with:
- a community treatment order
- the conditions placed on a discharge from the hospital
When you can apply
You can apply at different times, depending on how the patient was detained.
The rules are complicated, but generally the time-limits are:
|Type of detention||Period of detention||When you can appeal|
|Admitted for assessment||Up to 28 days||Within first 14 days|
|Admitted for treatment||Up to 6 months, but can be renewed||Once every 6 months|
|Ordered by court||Up to 6 months, but can be renewed||After 6 months, then once every 6 months|
The tribunal will automatically look at the cases of patients that have not been reviewed for some time. These are called ‘referrals’.
Help and advice
Patients are entitled to legal aid and can get free legal representation.
If you’re a relative of the patient, you can represent yourself or get legal help.
You can find a mental health solicitor on the Law Society website.
You can also get advice from: