Why are you in hospital?
You are being kept in this hospital under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983. This means that two doctors think that you have a mental disorder and you need to be in hospital so that you can be given treatment and care.
How long will you be here?
You can be kept here for up to 6 months at first so that you can be given the treatment you need. You must not leave during this time unless the person in charge of your care (your responsible clinician) tells you that you may. If you try to leave, the staff can stop you, and if you do leave, you can be brought back.
What happens next?
Your responsible clinician will tell you when they think you are well enough to leave hospital. If your responsible clinician thinks that you need to stay in hospital for longer than 6 months, they can renew how long you can be kept in hospital for up to another 6 months, and then for up to a year at a time. Your responsible clinician will talk to you about this towards the end of each period.
What treatment will you be given?
Your responsible clinician and other members of staff will talk to you about any treatment they think you need. In most cases you will have to accept their advice.
After three months, there are special rules about any medicine or drugs you are being given for your mental disorder. If you do not want the medicine or drugs, or are too ill to say whether you want them, a doctor who is not from this hospital will visit you. This independent doctor will
talk to you and to staff at the hospital who know you. The independent doctor will decide what medicine and drugs you can be given. Unless it is an emergency, these are the only medicine and drugs you can be given without your agreement.
This independent doctor is called a SOAD (Second Opinion Appointed Doctor) and is appointed by an independent Commission which monitors how the Mental Health Act is used.
There are different rules for some special treatments, like electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). If the staff think you need one of these special treatments, the rules will be explained to you and you will be given another leaflet.
Can you appeal?
Yes, you can appeal against a decision to keep you in hospital under Section 3.
To do this, you can ask the Hospital Managers to let you leave. You can do this at any time. The Hospital Managers are a special committee of people set up within the hospital to decide whether people should be kept in hospital. They may want to talk to you before deciding whether to let you leave.
You can write to the Hospital Managers at:
Mental Health Act Office
Brockfield House – Kemble Way
Or you can ask a member of staff to help you contact the Hospital Managers. Your nearest relative can also write to the Hospital Managers to say that they want you to be allowed
to leave hospital. Find more information about who your nearest relative is in the ' General information for patients, carers and relatives' section of this webpage. If your nearest relative does this, the Hospital Managers must let you leave within 72 hours unless your responsible clinician tells them you might be a danger to yourself or other people if you are allowed to leave. If this happens, it will be another 6 months before your nearest relative will be able to tell the Hospital Managers again that they want you to leave, if you are still being kept in hospital
then. You can also ask a Tribunal to say you should no longer
be kept in hospital.
What is a Tribunal and what happens?
The Tribunal is an independent panel which can decide whether you should be allowed to leave the hospital. It will hold a meeting with you and with staff from the hospital who know you. This meeting is called a ‘hearing. You can ask someone else to come to the hearing to help you, if you want. Before the hearing, the members of the Tribunal will read reports from the hospital about you and your care. One of the
members of the Tribunal will also come to talk to you.
When can I apply to the Tribunal?
You can apply to the Tribunal once at any time in the first 6 months you are kept in hospital under Section 3. You may then apply once at any time during the second 6 months, and then once during every year that you are kept in hospital after that. If your nearest relative told the Hospital Managers that they wanted you to be allowed to leave hospital, but your responsible clinician said you were not allowed to leave, your nearest relative can also apply to the Tribunal. Your nearest
relative must do this within 28 days of being told that your responsible clinician did not think you should be allowed to leave hospital.
If you want to apply to the Tribunal they can be contacted via
their website: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can
telephone them on 0300 123 2201
You can ask a solicitor to write to the Tribunal for you and help you at the hearing. The hospital and the Law Society have a list of solicitors who specialise in this. You will not have to pay for help from a solicitor with this. It is free of charge under the Legal Aid scheme.