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Judges rule that hospitals have a duty to protect voluntary psychiatric patients

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 10 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1025
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

Public institutions, including NHS hospitals, have a positive duty to safeguard the right to life of voluntary psychiatric patients as well as patients who are formally detained, the UK Supreme Court has ruled in a landmark judgment.

Five judges ruled that Pennine Care NHS Trust breached Melanie Rabone’s right to life under article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights when she was allowed to leave Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport in April 2005 for two days’ home leave with her parents. She had been admitted to hospital as a voluntary patient after a second suicide …

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