The health secretary will intervene in an appeal court case this
week over the Mental Health Act’s code of practice regarding
decisions on the use of solitary confinement.
Alan Milburn is expected to back the rulings of two High Court
cases challenging the hospitals’ seclusion policies last year, in
which judges said the code was not binding on health and social
care staff and that organisations only had to have “due regard” to
But mental health charity Mind, which has also given evidence to
the appeal case, wants the code to provide a legally enforceable
safeguard of individual patients’ rights.
The charity is arguing that the use of seclusion – in some cases
for months at a time – contravenes article 8 of the Human Rights
Act 1998, which protects a person’s right to private and family
Principal solicitor Simon Foster said: “Prison conditions are
regulated by legal rules, so why should mental health patients,
most of whom have committed no crime, have less protection than