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Sunday 26th May 2019

'Technical error' affected sectioned patients

30th October 2012

The Health Secretary has called for "urgent retrospective legislation" to address a "technical error" which affected around 5,000 people sectioned over the last decade.


Jeremy Hunt said doctors who sectioned patients under the Mental Health Act were not properly approved and has asked for an independent review to be carried out.

While Mr Hunt said that while the doctors who sectioned the patients were "medically qualified", there was a problem with the approval process.

He said around 2,000 doctors who worked for four Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) were not given the confirmation to section patients.

Since 2002, doctors who section patients are required to be approved by their SHA. Four of the ten SHAs in England requested that mental health trusts carried out the process but then failed to ask for it to be referred back to them for confirmation.

The SHAs involved were West Midlands, East Midlands, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber. 

Mr Hunt said: "We believe that all the proper clinical processes were gone through when these patients were detained. They were detained by medically qualified doctors. We believe that no one is in hospital who shouldn't be and no patients have suffered because of this.

"But for the avoidance of any remaining doubt, and in the interests of the safety of patients themselves, as well as the potential concerns of their families and the staff who care for them, we are introducing emergency legislation to clarify the position," he added.

Dr Geoffrey Harris, chairman of NHS South and former chairman of Buckinghamshire Mental Health Trust has been asked by the Department of Health to carry out an independent review.


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