A Hospital Managers Hearing is a safeguard put in place by the Mental Health Act.   Like a Mental Health Review Tribunal, it is a method of appealing a patient’s current detention and involves a Panel who make the decision on whether the statutory criteria for detention is met.  It is important to note that Hospital Managers hearings cannot discharge restricted patients without the consent of the Secretary of State for Justice.

A Hospital Managers hearing can be set for three main reasons.  Firstly, if the patient has applied for a Hospital Managers Hearing, secondly when their section is renewed and lastly when a Nearest relative has exercised their power to request a discharge and the doctor has issued a barring certificate.

  1. A patient can apply for a Hospital Managers hearing, unlike a tribunal they have unlimited hospital managers applications however it can take up to 3 months for the hearing to take place. In addition, it is at the Hospital Managers discretion whether to allow repeat applications.
  2. Hospital Managers Hearing can be organised is because the Doctor has renewed the section. The theory behind this is that there is a procedural safeguard for the patient to ensure that the criteria is met and that the doctor is not acting arbitrarily.
  3. The patient’s nearest relative can write to the Doctor and request for the patient to be discharged. If the doctor does not think this is appropriate, they can put in place a barring certificate which stops the discharged. If a barring certificate is put in place a Hospital Managers Panel is automatically triggered.

Panel

One of the main differences between a Tribunal and a Hospital Managers Panel is that a Managers panel is organised by the Hospital Trust and not the MH Courts and Tribunals service.  The panel is made up three ‘associate hospital managers’.  Although their title may lead you to believe they are actual managers of the hospital they are in fact appointed for the role and are not officers or employees of the Trust. Another key difference between a Tribunal panel and a panel of Hospital Managers is that they do not require a psychiatrist to be on the panel.

Evidence

Prior to the hearing several reports are submitted.  These are usually prepared by the relevant people within the patient’s care team. The reports summarise the circumstances around admission, progress and a recent update of the patient, any key information or risk events and their recommendation to the panel. The Doctor will often refer to the specific areas of the legal criteria and how the patent meets this.

During the hearing those who have written the reports will attend the hearing and give a brief update on the patient and any key information. They will then be subject to questions by the panel and the patient’s legal representative. It should be noted that during the current covid-19 restrictions these hearings are taking place via video link however in normal circumstances they take place at the hospital where the patient is detained or if the patient is in the community then their responsible hospital.

Powers

Governed by S23 Mental Health Act 1983 a Hospital Managers Panel can discharge a patient from their section if they do not feel that the statutory criteria are met. However, unlike a tribunal they cannot make recommendations or defer discharge. The Hospital Managers can also adjourn the hearing if they feel that more information is needed or if there is an administration issue.

When deciding on whether to discharge the panel should examine the statutory criteria and how the patient has met this. The legal criteria is that the patient is suffering from a mental disorder of nature and/or degree, that they are a risk to themselves, their health or others, that there is appropriate treatment available and it is the least restrictive environment. If the panel decides to discharge a patient, then it would be a unanimous decision of all three panel members.

Legal Representation

In a Hospital Managers Hearing if the patient is contesting their section and seeking to be discharged then they are entitled to legal representation through means tested Legal Aid. If they are not contesting their section at the Hospital Managers panel they will not be entitled to legal representation but should be supported by an independent advocate.

If you or someone you know has a Hospital Managers Hearing or would like advice in relation to mental health matters please do not hesitate to call 01529 301300 or email mental.health@ringroselaw.co.uk and speak to a member of the team now!

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