Unjustified seclusion of psychiatric patients is breach of human rights

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 24 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:183
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    Two hospitals caring for detained psychiatric patients were wrong to disregard provisions on the use of seclusion—the hospital equivalent of solitary confinement—in the Mental Health Act code of practice, the Court of Appeal ruled last week.

    The judgment, which lawyers and psychiatrists expect will have far reaching consequences, overturned two earlier High Court case rulings that held that the hospitals had to have regard to the code of practice but were not obliged to follow it.

    The appeal court held that unjustified seclusion is a breach of article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to respect for private life. The right can be interfered with only for …

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