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Published 29 May 2020
The guidance stresses that ‘high standards’ will be essential, bearing in mind the importance of the MHA assessment and that ‘great consideration will be required to ensure that the use of digital technology …does not disadvantage a person…’
The relevant considerations (which, presumably professionals will be expected to refer to) are detailed in the guidance, key points being:-
• In relation to the MHA assessment, the requirements under the MHA to ‘personally examine’ a patient (the recommending doctors) and to have personally seen’ a patient (the AMHP) can be carried out by video assessments (where the guidance is followed). Note however: ‘While NHS England and NHS Improvement and DHSC are satisfied that the provisions of the MHA do allow for video assessments to occur, providers should be aware that only courts can provide a definitive interpretation of the law.’
• Care will need to be taken that the use of a video assessment can be justified on a case by case basis.
• The guidance suggests this will be where it is demonstrated that:-
o There is a significant risk of harm via transmission to the patient or staff;
o And, there is a significant risk of harm due to the delay of the assessment and/or subsequent intervention;
o And the minimum quality standards and safeguards are met.
The (understandably) lengthy detailed standards that will need to be considered are set out at 14B (pgs 23-26). A checklist is included at Annex E.
• Clear processes which ensure that staff can safely access, complete and submit the appropriate documentation remotely. To support remote working arrangements, services may complete and communicate statutory forms electronically. This includes the use of electronic signature.
• Wherever possible this should be supported by the use of encrypted/secure signing. In exceptional circumstances, other forms of signing electronically (for example, PDF of handwritten signature or typing a name into the electronic form) are also permitted during this pandemic period.
• All electronic files are processed and stored in line with the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. It is strongly advised that providers put in place an agreed protocol for the electronic submission of statutory forms, to ensure these are sent and received securely.
• The adequacy of their schemes of delegation regarding sending and reception of papers and clear arrangements with local AMHP services around the sending and reception of electronic forms to mitigate potential risks.
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