Former mental health patient seeks compensation for ‘unlawful’ delayed discharge

A psychiatric patient who claims he was unlawfully detained for
eight months is waiting to find out whether he can sue a local
authority for compensation under the Human Rights Act,
writes Katie Leason.

A mental health tribunal decided in July 2001that the man, who
can only be named as ‘W’ for legal reasons, should be conditionally
discharged from hospital, but he was not allowed to move into a
hostel for eight months.

The accommodation had to be approved by the council before he
could be discharged from hospital, and Doncaster council did not
give permission for him to move into the hostel until March

His barrister argued that council had committed an “error of
law” by delaying W’s release from hospital.

It was argued that the delay was “unreasonable” and amounted to
a violation of W’s right to liberty under article 5 of the
European Convention on Human Rights, which entitled him to

However, the council’s legal representative claimed that
the duty of care towards W had not been breached. The council had
made “reasonable” efforts to ensure his transfer out of the
hospital, but there had been difficulties with the

Earlier it had been argued that the social worker in charge of
W’s case had not considered the hostel to be appropriate
accommodation, but nothing more suitable could be found.

The judge reserved his decision and will give his ruling in due

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