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Psychiatric Patients (Treatment)

Volume 33: debated on Monday 6 December 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether there are any restrictions on the use of solitary confinement or seclusion for patients in mental hospitals and special hospitals; and whether a patient in such a hospital can be put in solitary confinement or seclusion without the authority or approval of the medical practitioner in charge of the treatment of the patient.

Each of the special hospitals has an established procedure for the use and recording of seclusion. In an emergency—that is, for the immediate protection of the patient or the safety of others—the nurse in charge may authorise seclusion, which must then be reported immediately to senior nursing staff and the patient's responsible medical officer, or in his absence the duty medical officer. Seclusion may be continued only on the daily authorisation of a doctor responsible for the patient's treatment.Similar arrangements apply in mental hospitals. Professional guidelines on the use of seclusion have been issued by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Nursing for doctors and nurses working in NHS mental hospitals. Seclusion is one of the sensitive and important areas in which the new Mental Health Act commission is expected to take a close interest when it is established next year.