Mental health law in Scotland: guide to named persons

A named person is someone who can look after your interests if you are cared for or treated under mental health legislation. This guide provides information to help you understand your rights.

2. Choosing a Named Person

Adults (aged 16 or over)

You will only have a named person if you choose to have one and you're able to nominate someone yourself. You don't have to have one and no one can choose one for you.

You can only have one named person at a time. You can change your named person or decide to revoke (cancel) your named person at any time (see section 6).

Anyone aged 16 or over can be your named person providing that person is, and continues to be, capable of taking on this role. You can choose anyone at all to be your named person, such as your carer, spouse, nearest relative, or another mental health service user, as long as they agree to do it and they know what is involved. Your nomination for a named person needs to be signed and witnessed properly (see section 6).

Your named person should not be someone who has any professional responsibility for providing your care, for example your GP, responsible medical officer (RMO), mental health officer (MHO) or community psychiatric nurse (CPN). This is because your named person must be able to make decisions independently about what they think is in your best interests, and this might be in conflict with what your care team think.

You should be confident that your named person will be able to make important decisions about your care and treatment if you are not able to do so for yourself. They may have the role for a long time and so it is important that you think carefully about whether you would like someone to be your named person and who you would like that to be. You should feel comfortable with your named person being able to receive personal and sensitive care and treatment information and paperwork.

You should also be able to trust that your named person will not share any of your personal information and records with anyone else and will treat your information with respect.

Your named person must be an individual and cannot be an organisation (such as a company or a charity) or a group of people.

There is no single record of all named persons in Scotland. The information about your named person is usually kept with your medical records but other people, for example your mental health officer (MHO) should have a record of who your named person is. Anyone who is responsible for your care and treatment will need to know if you have chosen a named person or have changed your named person.

You can ask for a copy of the information about your named person to be filed with your medical records. If you have a named person you should tell your:

  • responsible medical officer (doctor);
  • general practitioner (GP);
  • mental health officer (MHO);
  • community psychiatric nurse;
  • solicitor;
  • independent advocate (if you have one); or
  • any other person close to you.

Your named person might be able to help you do this. You may also want to make sure your carers and relatives know as well. You should keep a list of the names and contact details of the people who have been told who your named person is. If you decide to make any changes to your named person you will also need to make sure that everyone who is involved in your care knows.

If you have decided that you want to nominate someone as your named person, or that you want to change your existing named person, then there is more detailed information on how to do this in sections 5 and 6 of this guide.

If you're 16 years old or over, you can choose a named person if you want to have one. The choice is yours. You should choose someone who will act in your best interests, is trustworthy, and who agrees to do it. At any time you can change your named person or decide that you no longer want to have one.

Children (aged under 16)

You cannot choose your named person. Your named person will be either:

  • a parent or person who has parental rights and responsibilities for you, as long as they are at least 16 years old;
  • the local authority, if you are being looked after under a care order under the Children Act 1989; or
  • in all other cases your primary carer, as long as they are 16 years old or more.

You can apply to the Tribunal if you believe that the person who is your named person should not be (see section 8 on finding further information and advice). Other people, such as a parent, guardian or relative can also apply to the Tribunal. If the Tribunal agrees with you then it can appoint another named person for you.

Once you reach the age of 16, you will only have a named person if you have capacity to make this decision and wish to have one. Your chosen named person would also need to agree to this (see section 5). If you reach the age of 16 and you're not able to choose your own named person then you will not have one.

If you're under 16 years old, you will automatically have a named person. Once you reach 16 then you will only have a named person if you choose to have one.


Email: Dan Curran

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