The purpose of this paper is to determine what written information is given to informally admitted patients in England and Wales regarding their legal rights in relation to freedom of movement and treatment.
Information leaflets were obtained by a search of all National Health Service mental health trust websites in England and health boards in Wales and via a Freedom of Information Act 2000 request. Data were analysed using content analysis.
Of the 61 organisations providing inpatient care, 27 provided written information in the form of a leaflet. Six provided public access to the information leaflets via their website prior to admission. Although the majority of leaflets were accurate the breadth and depth of the information varied considerably. Despite a common legal background there was confusion and inconsistency in the use of the terms informal and voluntary as well as inconsistency regarding freedom of movement, the right to refuse treatment and discharge against medical advice.
The research has demonstrated the value of Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests in obtaining data. Further research should explore the effectiveness of informing patients of their rights from their perspective.
Work should be undertaken to establish a consensus of good practice in this area. Information should be consistent, accurate and understandable.
This is the only research reporting on the availability and content of written information given to informal patients about their legal rights.
Ashmore, R. and Carver, N. (2017), "Informal mental health patients: what are they told of their legal rights?", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 51-62. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-09-2016-0019Download as .RIS
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