SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- A compulsory patient is a person under an Assessment Order, Temporary Treatment Order or Treatment Order.
- Every compulsory patient has rights and there are independent organisations that can help you.
- If you have to have compulsory treatment, you can nominate a person to support you.
Your basic rights as a compulsory patient
As a compulsory patient, you have the right to:
- make or participate in decisions about your treatment
- apply to the Mental Health Tribunal to revoke your Temporary Treatment Order or Treatment Order
- make an advance statement
- nominate a nominated person
- seek a second psychiatric opinion
- ask for legal advice
- communicate with people by letter or telephone, and to have visitors
- make a complaint to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission about your treatment.
An Assessment Order allows a psychiatrist to examine you to decide if you have , even if you do not want to be assessed. A doctor or a mental health practitioner (a nurse, , or employed or engaged by a designated mental health service) can make an Assessment Order. You can be assessed in the community (Community Assessment Order) or at a hospital (Inpatient Assessment Order).
If an Assessment Order is made for you, it is because the doctor or mental health practitioner believes that:
- you appear to have mental illness
- because you appear to have mental illness, you need immediate treatment to stop serious deterioration in your mental or physical health or to stop serious harm to you or another person
- if an Assessment Order is made, you can be assessed, and there is no less restrictive way for you to be assessed.
Reasons for compulsory treatment
Within 24 hours of a Community Assessment Order being made, or of your admission to an inpatient mental health service if an Inpatient Assessment Order has been made for you, a psychiatrist from the mental health service will examine you to decide:
- if you have a mental illness
- because you have mental illness, you need immediate treatment:
- to stop serious deterioration in your mental or physical health
- to stop serious harm to you or another person
- immediate treatment will be provided if a Temporary Treatment Order is made for you and there is no less restrictive way for you to receive immediate treatment.
If all the above reasons apply to you, the psychiatrist will make a Temporary Treatment Order and you must remain a compulsory patient. A Temporary Treatment Order can only last for 28 days.
You may have to stay in hospital for mental health treatment on an Inpatient Temporary Treatment Order, even if you don’t want to.
Your psychiatrist may decide that you can receive the treatment you need at home or when you visit a community clinic on a Community Temporary Treatment Order. However, you are still a compulsory patient.
Making or participating in treatment decisions
A psychiatrist must talk to you about what mental health treatment you would like. You can ask a psychiatrist questions about your treatment. The psychiatrist must answer your questions in a way that you can understand.
A psychiatrist or another member of the treating team will help you to make decisions about your mental health treatment. You can also ask a family member, nominated person, guardian, carer or mental health advocate to help you to make decisions about your mental health treatment.
A psychiatrist may make a decision about your treatment if:
- you do not agree to the treatment that the psychiatrist thinks will help you get better
- you are unable to make a decision about your treatment when the decision needs to be made.
If you are unable to make a decision about your treatment, the psychiatrist will still listen to what treatment you would like before making a decision about your treatment.
Mental Health Tribunal
- makes Treatment Orders
- makes decisions about whether a person can have or neurosurgery for mental illness
- hears applications from patients who want to be taken off their order
- hears applications from patients against being transferred to another service.
If you are on a Temporary Treatment Order, the Mental Health Tribunal will hold a hearing to decide if you need compulsory treatment for mental illness for longer than 28 days. The Tribunal can make a Treatment Order for up to:
- 12 months, if you are on a Community Treatment Order
- 6 months, if you are on an Inpatient Treatment Order
- 3 months, if you are aged under 18.
Your order will finish at the end of the term set by the Tribunal. Your psychiatrist can cancel the order at any time if they believe that you no longer need compulsory treatment. If your psychiatrist thinks you still need compulsory treatment, they must make an application to the Tribunal for a further Treatment Order before your current order ends.
Your right to apply to the Mental Health Tribunal
It is your right to apply to the independent Tribunal to revoke your order at any time. If you want to apply to the Tribunal, ask a member of your treating team for an application form. The team member can send it to the Tribunal for you.
You can make an advance statement at any time. An advance statement is written by you and says what treatment you would like when you are unwell.
You can make an advance statement by writing it down, and signing and dating it. Your advance statement must be signed by a witness who says you understand what the advance statement is and what it means to make the advance statement. The witness must be a doctor, a member of your treating team, or someone who is allowed to witness statutory declarations.
Choosing a nominated person
A nominated person is someone you can choose to support you if you have to have compulsory treatment. Your nominated person can be a family member, a carer, a partner, or anyone else you choose. You can ask someone to be your nominated person at any time.
Your nominated person gets information about your mental health treatment. Because of this, you should choose someone who knows you well and who you can trust.
You can make a nomination by writing it down, and signing and dating your nomination. The person needs to agree to be your nominated person.
Your nomination must be signed by a witness who says you understand what the nomination is and what it means to make a nomination. The witness must be a doctor, a member of your treating team, or someone who is allowed to witness statutory declarations. The witness cannot be the person you choose to be the nominated person.
Your right to seek a second opinion
It is your right to seek a second opinion about your psychiatric condition or treatment. You can ask your case manager or clinician to help you arrange this.
Your treating psychiatrist must consider the recommendations made in a second psychiatric opinion report. If they decide not to adopt any or all of the recommendations in the report, you can ask the Chief Psychiatrist to review your treatment. The Chief Psychiatrist can direct that changes are made to your treatment, if they think it is appropriate.
Your right to legal advice
Your right to communicate with family and friends
You can have people visit you at the mental health service and you can contact people by letter or phone. You can also have someone of your choice with you when you discuss your treatment with your doctor.
Your right to complain
If you are unhappy about anything that happens when you are a compulsory patient, you have the right to complain. A good place to start is with your case manager or the complaints officer at the mental health service. You can also contact the on .
Where to get help
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