5000 wrongly sectioned evidence

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The INDEPENDENT

Thousands wrongly sectioned under mental health act following 'technical error'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament that thousands of Britain's most vulnerable patients have been locked up on the say so of doctors

By JEROME TAYLOR,REPORTER

Monday 29 October 2012

The Government has admitted that it will have to take the extraordinary step of bringing in emergency retrospective legislation after more than 5,000 people were wrongly sectioned under the mental health act over the past ten years because of a technical error. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament that thousands of Britain's most vulnerable patients have been locked up on the say so of doctors who, despite having the requisite medical knowledge, were not legally allowed to make such a decision. The error will require immediate retrospective legislation to avoid a deluge of legal complaints whilst a review has been ordered to find out what went wrong. The Department of Health insists that no patients have been wrongly sectioned in clinical terms and that the doctors behind the decisions had the correct professional qualifications. Under the Mental Health Act those who are sectioned for their own or society's safety are done so with the authorisation of a doctor who has to be approved by the Secretary

of State. In recent years the Health Secretary has delegated responsibility for approving doctors to the 10 Strategic Health Authorities that cover England. However four authorities - North East, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands and East Midlands - delegated a further step top mental health trusts and then failed to sign off on the decisions they made, meaning they were effectively illegal. In a statement to the Commons Mr Hunt said: "We believe that all the proper clinical processes were gone through when these patients were detained. They were detained by...