Intended for healthcare professionals


Possible problem with section 12

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 06 May 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1197
  1. John Harding Price
  1. Press officer, Society of Clinical Psychiatrists Lawn Medical Centre, Lincoln LN2 5QT

    EDITOR,—Caroline Bradley and colleagues studied appeals against detention under section 2 of the Mental Health Act.1 I recently came up against a problem with section 12 of the act, which gives psychiatrists the power to detain people under the act. I was involved in a case heard by the General Medical Council after I had failed to reapply for approval under section 12 (2) of the act when renewal was due. I had relied on the previous practice of Trent Regional Health Authority and the Department of Health's guidance on the process for approval of medical practitioners under section 12 (2) of the Mental Health Act 1983, which states at paragraph 4: “and subsequently they [the regional health authority] should remind him [the practitioner] that he should apply for renewal of approval if he so wishes.”2 The previous practice of Trent Regional Health Authority was to remind practitioners that their licence had expired, but it did not do so in this case.

    All doctors in the Trent Regional Health Authority area should be warned that they cannot rely on the authority to follow the Department of Health's guidelines. For their own protection and to avoid entrapment, medical practitioners in other regions would be wise to discover whether those regions are following the department's guidelines. It is, of course, standard procedure to remind people when their motor licence, television licence, registration with the General Medical Council, or insurance policies are due.


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