Conditions for Compulsion

The Mental Health Act 1983 sets out the criteria for compulsory admission to hospital as follows:

  1. The person must be experiencing a mental disorder of a nature or severity to make admission appropriate;
  2. If the person is being detained because of psychopathic disorder or mental impairment there must be treatment which will improve or prevent deterioration in the personís condition;
  3. Voluntary admission must have been refused;
  4. All options for a less restrictive alternative must be explored;
  5. Admission must be in the interest of the personís own health or safety, or for the protection of others;
  6. Persons may not be dealt with under the Act by reason only of promiscuity or other immoral conduct, sexual deviancy or dependence on alcohol or drugs.

The reduction in the number of hospital beds has made it harder to be admitted to hospital, so people are often admitted at a later stage of a crisis. There have also been a number of high profile incidents where people with personality disorder have been turned away by services because their condition is not treatable and they have then gone on to commit violent crimes. These situations have spurred demand for change to the law.

The 2004 Draft Mental Health Bill lists the following conditions:

  1. The first condition is that the patient is suffering from mental disorder.
  2. The second condition is that that mental disorder is of such a nature or degree as to warrant the provision of medical treatment to him.
  3. The third condition is that it is necessary:
    1. For the protection of the patient from:
      1. Suicide or serious self-harm, or
      2. Serious neglect by him of his health or safety, or
    2. For the protection of other persons,
    3. that medical treatment be provided to the patient.
  4. The fourth condition is that medical treatment cannot lawfully be provided to the patient without him being subject to the provisions of this Part.
  5. The fifth condition is that medical treatment is available which is appropriate in the patientís case, taking into account the nature or degree of his mental disorder and all other circumstances of his case.
  6. The fourth condition does not apply in the case of a patient aged 16 or over who is at substantial risk of causing serious harm to other persons.
  7. For the purposes of this Part, a determination as to whether a patient is at substantial risk of causing serious harm to other persons is to be treated as part of the determination as to whether all of the relevant conditions appear to be or are met in his case.