Alliance policies: Nearest relatives, nominated persons and carers

The Alliance believes that individuals should be able to choose a "nominated person" who will have the same powers as the nearest relative in current legislation. The nominated person is likely to be someone in whom the patient has trust and confidence, someone who s/he believes will safeguard his/her interests and someone who can provide emotional support at a time of crisis.

The power to object to the use of compulsion or to discharge the patient are both vital safeguards; they can draw the attention of busy professionals to a changed situation and make them think critically about their decisions. They are a check on a misuse of discretion or a failure to act and may prevent unnecessary compulsion. They are useful in assisting a person’s discharge without recourse to a Tribunal.

The Alliance also believes that the rights of carers should be enshrined in any Mental Health Act and calls for a clearer definition of the term ‘carer’ in relation to rights under the mental health law, which takes into account first time assessments and, in ongoing situations, allows for fluctuations in providing care.

Useful links