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New safeguards planned for psychiatric patients

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 04 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:7
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    The Department of Health is expected to introduce new safeguards for psychiatric patients admitted informally to hospitals and residential homes, after a House of Lords ruling last week which was greeted with huge relief by NHS managers and psychiatrists.

    Five law lords ruled unanimously that a 48 year old autistic man, L, was not unlawfully detained after he was admitted informally to Bournewood Hospital in Surrey. The ruling overturned a decision last December by the Court of Appeal that caused consternation in the health service and forced doctors to section under the Mental Health Act thousands of patients with learning disabilities and dementia (14 February, p 497). The appeal court held that the long standing practice of informally admitting …

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