The Department of Health is to test the use of full-time Mental Health Review Tribunal presidents in a bid to reduce the number of delays in the system.
David Lye, the DH’s mental health bill implementation manager, hoped the trial would lead to fewer adjournments and cancellations of hearings because presidents would be able to deal with any potential problems in advance.
Tribunal presidents, who are lawyers, sit alongside doctors and lay members to review the legality of decisions to section people.
The six-month pilot project begins at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust in April.
The administration of the tribunal system is to move from the DH to the Department of Constitutional Affairs also in April.
MHRT southern regional chair Jeremy Cooper told an Institute of Mental Health Act Practitioners conference last week that the move would be beneficial as the DCA had more experience with administering legal cases and tribunals.