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E.D. Contact is a new and positive Information Resource created by and for Families and Individuals living with Eating Distress in Ireland.

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' Learning about rights means

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links:

Irish Patients Association

Voluntary Mental Health Organisations

Mental Health Commission

Customer Complaints procedure


Mental Health Commission

Irish Mental Health Coalition

Mental Health Ireland


Patient Focus


EU Patients Rights Charter proposed

Mental Health

Mental Health Act 2001 and Human Rights

The Irish College of General Practitioners

Equality in a Diverse Ireland

White Paper on Mental Health



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Rights of psychiatric patients in Ireland
 

 

Information

Under current legislation in Ireland, patients can be admitted to psychiatric hospitals or units voluntarily or involuntarily. There are some restrictions on the right of voluntary and involuntary patients to leave psychiatric hospitals or units. There is strong legislation in place to ensure that people who are mentally ill are not deprived of their rights while receiving psychiatric treatment. In addition, this legislation also protects the families of those receiving psychiatric treatment and ensures they are not discriminated against because their family member is in care.

These rights and procedures will change when the Mental Health Act, 2001 is brought into effect.

Rules

If you are a voluntary patient, you may leave the hospital or unit but you must give three days notice of your intention to do so.

Involuntary temporary patients are admitted to a psychiatric hospital or unit or approved psychiatric centre for a fixed period, which may, if deemed clinically appropriate, be extended. In effect, you may not leave the psychiatric hospital or registered centre until the consultant psychiatrist considers you are well enough to do so or until the time period has expired.

The rights of patients in psychiatric hospitals

Every patient has the right to have a letter forwarded, unopened, to the Minister for Health and Children, the President of the High Court, the Registrar of Wards of Court, the relevant Health Service Executive (HSE) Area or the Inspector of Mental Hospitals. The Minister can arrange for an examination of the patient by the Inspector of Mental Hospitals and can direct that the patient be discharged if that is justified. The President of the High Court can require the Inspector of Mental Hospitals to visit and examine any patient detained in a mental hospital in Ireland and report to him or her.

Any person can apply to the Minister for Health and Children for an order for an examination, by two doctors, of a patient detained and the Minister can, after considering their report, direct that the patient be discharged.

A patient who has recovered from mental illness must be discharged.

 

There are penalties for wrongfully detaining people in mental hospitals. Section 19 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1945, sets out penalties that may be imposed by a court of law on any person found to have acted in contravention of the provisions of that Act. The Mental Health Act, 2001 provides that any person found guilty of an offence under either part 2 of the Act (the part that deals with the procedure to be followed in the case of an involuntary admission) or who is found to have obstructed the work of the Inspector of Mental Health Services shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to 1,904.61 euro or a prison sentence of up to 12 months, or both.

The Act also provides that anyone found guilty of an offence under the provisions of Part 5 of the Mental Health Act, 2001 (the part dealing with running approved psychiatric centres) will, on summary conviction, be liable to the above penalties and if found guilty on conviction on indictment may be subject to a fine of up to 63,486.90 euro and/or a prison sentence of up to 2 years.

Penalties will be imposed by a court of law.

Any relative or friend of a detained person can apply for the discharge of a patient and if the medical officer of the institution certifies that the patient is dangerous or otherwise unfit to be discharged, the relative or friend can appeal to the Minister for Health and Children.

These rights and procedures will change when the Mental Health Act, 2001 is brought into effect.

Appealing against detention

The Mental Treatment Act, 1945 provides that where a patient considers that he/she has been wrongfully detained, he/she (or someone acting on his/her behalf) can apply to the courts for a judicial review of the decision to detain, apply to the Minister for Health and Children for a second opinion or write to the Inspector of Mental Hospitals or President of the High Court.

Section 259 of the 1945 Act and Section 260 of the 1945 Act provide that where a patient who was formerly detained wishes to begin proceedings in a court of law under the provisions of the Act, he/she may only do so with leave of the High Court and such proceedings must be instituted within 6 months of the last day of the patient's involuntary detention.

Under the provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2001, each decision to detain or extend the detention of a patient will be subject to automatic review within 21 days by a mental health tribunal, which will have the power to affirm or revoke admission or renewal orders and direct that the patient be discharged from the approved centre concerned. Where a patient is unhappy with the decision of the tribunal, he/she may appeal to the Circuit Court on the grounds that he/she is not suffering from a mental illness within 14 days of the receipt of notification informing him/her of the decision of the tribunal. Appeal to the High Court against the decision of the Circuit Court will only be allowed on a point of law.

Section 73 of the Mental Health Act 2001 provides that civil proceedings may only be instituted with prior leave of the High Court. Section 74 of the 2001 Act provides that the new Mental Health Commission may initiate proceedings in respect of breaches of the provisions of the Act within 12 months of the date of the alleged offence.

The Inspector of Mental Hospitals

The Inspector of Mental Hospitals must visit and inspect all psychiatric institutions and approved centres and produce an annual report for the Minister for Health and Children. The Inspector is obliged to visit all psychiatric institutions at least once a year.

When the Inspector visits a mental hospital or approved centre, he or she must look into the case of any detained person where he or she has doubts about the detention or where he or she has been asked by the patient or any other person to investigate.

How to apply

To have someone discharged from a mental hospital or approved centre, you should apply to the Clinical Director of the hospital or centre.

Where to apply

Inspector of Mental Health Services,
Mental Health Commission,
St. Martin's House,
Waterloo Road,
Dublin 4.
Tel: (01) 636 400
Fax: (01) 6362440

 

source: www.dohc.ie

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