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Remote Mental Health Act Assessments to Stop with Immediate Effect



Published 25 January 2021


The Court has now considered the question of whether Mental Health Act assessments by AMHPs and medical practitioners can be carried out remotely (e.g. via video) - see Devon Partnership NHS Trust v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

The case turned on the interpretation of what the Mental Health Act means by ‘personally seen’ (s.11(5)) and ‘personally examined’ (s.12(1)) in the context of the obligation on the AMHP and assessing doctors when carrying out MHA assessments.

The Court has concluded that this requires ‘the physical attendance of the person in question on the patient’.

In light of this, the section dealing with remote assessments in the ‘Legal guidance for services supporting people of all ages during the coronavirus pandemic’ is being removed, and will be further updated in due course.

Immediate Steps

In the light of this decision, the following steps need to be followed.

Organisations will need to:

• ensure that no further remote assessments are undertaken;

• scope the implications (including how many assessments this may involve);

• consider their strategy, taking advice as necessary.

Our team of specialist mental health lawyers can help advise on the implications of this decision and next steps.