Two hospitals were wrong to disregard the Mental Health Act 1983’s
code of practice on the use of seclusion, the hospital equivalent
of solitary confinement.
The Court of Appeal ruled last week that unjustified use of
seclusion was a breach of patients’ human rights.
Mental health charity Mind, which intervened in the two cases
earlier this year, welcomed the ruling.
Mind’s principal solicitor, Simon Foster, said he hoped the health
secretary would issue directions to health professionals and a new
code “as soon as practicable” to take account of the Human Rights
Act 1998. He also called on John Reid to guarantee that any new
mental health act would be accompanied by a legally enforceable
code of practice.
In both cases it was originally ruled that the hospitals – Ashworth
in Merseyside and Airedale in Yorkshire – were not obliged to
comply with the code of practice as long as they had regard to it.
The health secretary had also intervened, arguing that the code was
simply for guidance and should not be binding on health and social
The code governs how the law is applied on issues such as
restraint, care and treatment, visitors and personal searches to
prevent arbitrary decisions and to safeguard patients’
Hospitals and professionals will now be required to abide by the
code unless they can prove it is necessary and in accordance with
the law to do otherwise.
– A born-again Christian from Liverpool, who believes taking
anti-psychotic medication is against his religious beliefs, has
told the High Court that it would be a violation of his human
rights to be forcibly injected. Mr Justice Silber has reserved