One of the leading mental health attorneys in the region says clearer guidelines are needed for conducting safe personal patient reviews.
John Lancaster of GHP Legal and Senior Solicitor-Advocate has welcomed the announcement that virtual assessments have been banned to help determine whether a patient should be incarcerated under the Mental Health Act, but says clearer guidelines for performing facial treatments are needed . personal reviews for sure.
He says that while he is unaware that such virtual reviews are taking place with his own clients in North Wales, Shropshire and North West England, he would urge anyone detained this way, or a friend or relative of such a person, for urgent legal advice to search.
In November 2020, the Department of Health and Welfare issued guidelines indicating that trusts could use remote assessments as part of an assessment during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the virulence of the pandemic.
“There are some basic safety precautions in place when someone is detained against their will in a mental hospital,” he said.
“The first of these is that the patient must first be seen by appropriately qualified doctors and an ‘AMHP’, usually a social worker, who must all agree that the person is in the interests of their own health and safety and / or their own Security must be imprisoned or the protection of others.
“These assessments can often take place in people’s homes or in cramped conditions in hospitals or police cells. If the warrant is renewed, similar assessments must be made at the renewal.
“As a result, health foundations and local authorities need guidance on how to maintain this protection while protecting everyone from coronavirus.
Two distinguished High Court justices, Dame Victoria Sharp and Justice Chamberlain, came up with the matter in a Devon Health Trust case last month.
“You were asked what kind of professionals are considered necessary to ‘see’ or ‘face-to-face’ a patient. For example, would an examination on Skype or Zoom or even over the phone be enough?
“The judges concluded that ‘remote screening’ would not be sufficient and that detention under the Mental Health Act requires a face-to-face meeting.
“NHS England responded to the ruling by stating that there should be no more virtual reviews. After this advice, there must now be instructions on how assessments can best be carried out safely. ”