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Mental Health Act 1983 (Orders)

Volume 79: debated on Friday 17 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many orders have been made since October 1983 by the courts under section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983 placing a convicted person under guardianship of a local social services authority or other approved person; and if he will make a statement.

Between 30 September 1983 and 31 March 1984 four new guardianship orders under section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983 were accepted or approved by local authorities. Later figures are not yet available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many patients have been discharged or transferred from special hospitals on recommendation of the responsible medical officer since October 1983; and if he will make a statement.

In the period 1 November 1983 to 30 April 1985, 220 patients were discharged or transferred from special hospitals on their responsible medical officer's recommendation and 19 patients went to complete prison sentences when their responsible medical officer considered they no longer needed treatment. A further 65 patients were discharged by mental health review tribunals—which may or may not have been the course favoured by the responsible medical officer.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans the Government have to remedy the delays to which patients, detained under sections 3, 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act 1983, are subjected when an application for a mental health review tribunal is made; and if he will make a statement.

Delays in convening tribunal hearings are not all within our control. In some cases those representing applicants have required substantial time to prepare their cases. Delays which have occurred have in the main involved restricted patients, where the tribunal president must be a judge. Some additional judge time has been made available for dealing with these applications. There have been increases in the staff servicing tribunals and we have now authorised further increases. Other measures are also being taken to speed up the processing of applications and we will continue to monitor the situation closely. The Mental Health Act 1983 gave rise to a considerable increase in the work of tribunals. In 1984 they dealt with 2,208 cases compared with 911 in 1982. The 1984 figure included some 900 applications by patients detained under section 2 of the Act, which must be heard within seven days of receipt of the application.