A legal ruling that a same-sex partner could be a patient’s nearest
relative under the Mental Health Act 1983 may have wider
implications for doctors, according to the Medical Defence
The ruling, made last year, was concerned only with the Mental
Health Act. But the MDU is advising doctors that it could mean that
a same sex relationship should be seen as comparable to a marital
relationship in other circumstances, such as consultation over the
treatment of patients who lack capacity.
A woman had brought a judicial review against the decision that her
same-sex partner could not be her nearest relative for the purposes
of the Mental Health Act.
Dr John Gilberthorpe, MDU medico-legal adviser, said: “The effect
of the ruling is that a patient’s nearest possible relative under
the Mental Health Act can include a homosexual partner. Their views
will take precedence as nearest relative over all others, including
parents, children or siblings of the patient.”