8 Short-term detention certificate
(a) When might a short-term detention certificate be granted?
A doctor with experience in diagnosing and treating mental disorder (a psychiatrist), who has examined you, may grant a short-term detention certificate where he/she believes it is likely that:
- You have a mental disorder; and
- Your ability to make decisions about medical treatment is significantly impaired, as a result of your mental disorder; and
- It is necessary to detain you in hospital, to help decide what medical treatment you need and to give you that treatment; and
- If you were not detained in hospital, there would be a significant risk to you, or to other people; and
- Granting a short-term detention certificate is necessary.
Before granting the certificate, the doctor must consult a mental health officer ( MHO) and get his/her agreement. Before deciding whether to agree to the certificate, the MHO should see you and discuss matters with you, unless there is a good reason why they cannot do this.
Where possible, the doctor should also consult your named person ( see - glossary) and take his/her views into account.
(b) What happens after a short-term detention certificate is granted?
If you are not in hospital when the certificate is granted, then arrangements will be made to transfer you to hospital. The Act says that you have to be transferred to hospital within 72 hours (3 days) of the certificate being granted. Transfers to hospital should take place as soon as possible within that period and should be carried out sensitively. Once you have been admitted to hospital, you can be kept there under the certificate for up to a further 28 days from the day you are admitted.
If you are already in hospital when the certificate is granted, you can be kept there under the certificate for up to 28 days.
It is possible for the certificate to be extended beyond the 28 day period. If your condition has got worse towards the end of that period and extra time is needed to put together an application for a compulsory treatment order ( CTO) ( see here), then you can be detained for a further 3 days. Where an application for a CTO has been submitted to the Tribunal, then you can be detained in hospital under the short-term detention certificate for a further 5 days.
(c) What will happen to me when I'm in hospital under a short-term detention certificate?
The purpose of a short-term detention certificate is to allow you to be assessed and/or treated in hospital.
You can be given treatment for your mental disorder in accordance with the rules set out in part 16 of the Act. You can be given some treatment, including medication, without your consent. However, your views and wishes about treatment should be taken into account, including where these are expressed in an advance statement.
The hospital managers are under a duty to ensure that a doctor with experience in diagnosing and treating mental disorder (a psychiatrist) is appointed as your responsible medical officer ( RMO).
Your RMO should keep your condition under review. If he/she thinks that it is no longer necessary for you to be detained in hospital under the Act, then he/she will revoke the short-term detention certificate. You will then be free to leave the hospital, or to stay as a voluntary patient, if you have agreed to do so. If he/she believes that you do need to be detained in hospital, or receive treatment under the
Act beyond the period authorised by the certificate, then they may decide to make an application for a compulsory treatment order ( CTO).
The hospital managers also have a duty to provide you with information about your detention in hospital and your rights. They should tell you about independent advocacy services and help you to access the support of an independent advocate, if you wish to do so.
(d) Can I appeal to the Tribunal against a short-term detention certificate?
Yes. You or your named person can apply to the Tribunal to have the short-term detention certificate revoked. You can get information about how to do this from the Tribunal ( see here). However, you should consider seeking advice from a solicitor. You will be entitled to legal aid to allow a solicitor to represent you at any Tribunal hearing. A solicitor may also be able to instruct an independent medical report which might support your case.