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Should the Mental Health Act 1983 s.23 Hospital Manager Discharge Power be Retained?

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Section 23 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA 1983) gives hospital managers the power to discharge a person from compulsory care. Since the mid-1990s there has been a concerted effort on the part of government, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), and others to abolish this power. Conversely, the argument for retention has tended to come from the service user community, associated support groups, charities, and groups of hospital managers.

To decide whether the s.23 power should be retained we need to consider three things. First, what do we know about the operation and administration of s.23? Secondly, can a principled argument be made for the retention of a discharge mechanism offering community oversight of care professionals? And finally, if it can, is s.23 the best vehicle for providing such a mechanism? These questions have not been addressed in the discourse thus far. In this paper I offer a response to the first question, and some initial observations on the second and third questions in the context of a discussion about the on-going attempt – most recently in the RCP’s February 2018 response to the Independent Review of the MHA 1983 – to abolish the s.23 discharge power.

Event (Conference)

Title2nd Mental Disability Law Conference
LocationInstitute of Mental Health & School of Law, University of Nottingham
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Degree of recognitionInternational event