2012 02 Mental Health

Thursday 1 March 2012

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Stanev v Bulgaria 36760/06 (2012) ECHR 46: The Court held that the applicant's placement in a social care home for people with mental disorders combined with his inability to obtain permission to leave the home led to breaches of Article 5(1), (4) and (5) of the European Convention of Human Rights. Further the living conditions in the home led to breaches of Article 3, and of Article 13. Also the lack of access to a court to seek release from partial guardianship breached Article 6(1). Compensation of €15,000 was awarded. (click here for transcript)

A Crawford & another v Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust [2012] EWCA Civ 138 (Laws LJ, Elias LJ, Kitchin LJ): In allowing an appeal in part the Court of Appeal made obiter comment about the appropriateness of involving the police where it was alleged that elderly dementia patient abuse had occurred through nurses using an unauthorised from of restraint. The appellant nurses appealed against a decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal overturning a decision of an employment tribunal that they had been unfairly dismissed by the respondent NHS trust in respect of restraint of dementia patients. It was important that hospitals in the situation, that the NHS trust found itself presented with, had to be seen to be acting transparently and not concealing wrongdoing. Employers should not subject employees to burden of criminality without the most careful consideration and a genuine and reasonable belief that the case, if established, might justify the epithet "criminal" being applied to the employee's conduct. That requirement was not satisfied in the instant case. No-one suggested that C were acting other than in the best interests of the particular patient and the other patients. The alleged restriction in this case was not essentially different to the physical restraint which had been carried out on the patient before. There was obvious justification for restraining the patient in question, even if the appropriate procedures for doing so were not employed, and the police should never have been involved as they had been in the instant case (click here for transcript).

Timothy Coombs v (1) Dorset NHS PCT; (2) Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (2012) QBD (Judge Platts): Extempore judgement. In deciding a preliminary issue the court held that a person detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 was not, as a matter of public policy or otherwise, prevented from paying for his own care or treatment, although the choice of appropriate placement or treatment would remain to be made by the detaining authority or the patient's responsible clinician. The Defendants were granted permission to appeal this decision (transcript not available).

K v (1) LBX (2) L (by his litigation friend the official solicitor) [2012] EWCA Civ 79 (Thorpe LJ, Black LJ, Davis LJ): In dismissing an appeal in respect of a case concerning a trial period in supported accommodation and consideration of issues of whether priority could be afforded to placement of the incapacitated person with their family or whether it was merely a relevant circumstance in determining the issue of best interests. The Court held that when determining issues under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a judge should first ascertain the best interests of an incapacitated adult by applying the checklist of factors in section 4 of the MCA 2005 then ask whether the resulting conclusion amounted to a violation of the person's rights under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.8 and whether that violation was necessary and proportionate but that article 8 was not the starting point (click here for transcript).

Richard Rabone (in his own right and as personal representative of the estate of Melanie Rabone); (2) Gillian Rabone v Pennine Care NHS Trust [2012] UKSC 2 (Lord Walker JSC, Lady Hale JSC, Lord Brown JSC, Lord Mance JSC, Lord Dyson JSC): On allowing an appeal the Supreme Court held that article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 imposed an operational obligation on states to protect mentally ill patients who were not detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 where there was a real and immediate risk of suicide. The appellant parents appealed against a decision ([2010] EWCA Civ 698, [2011] Q.B. 1019) that the respondent NHS trust did not have a duty under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 to take reasonable steps to protect their mentally ill daughter from the risk of suicide. The appellant’s daughter had suffered from depression and had been informally admitted to hospital following a suicide attempt. She was assessed as a high risk of suicide but was allowed two days' home leave during which she committed suicide (click here for transcript).

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