Emergency changes have been made to mental health legislation during the coronavirus pandemic. These relate to a number of aspects of care including detention times, authorisation and tribunals. This article was originally an early online publication; it was updated on 12 May, 2020.
Some mental health lawyers have told Mind that hospitals are not introducing processes quickly enough to facilitate electronic disclosure of notes or even telephone contact with lawyers. Adam Marley, mental health law supervisor at GT Stewart Solicitors, said: “The wards are on lockdown; some units only have one payphone and no extra provision has been made to facilitate legal calls. These calls are highly confidential, and patients shouldn’t have to stand in a queue and be overhead discussing highly personal information.
“Part of our role is to support patients through the process and for them to be able to trust us to make their case. That’s not possible to do properly without privacy and face-to-face contact to take instructions on what can often be very distressing material in clinical reports. This is especially the case when the client is new to the solicitor and when an element of their illness might be paranoia or confusion.”