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Informal mental health patients: what are they told of their legal rights?

Russell Ashmore (Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Neil Carver (Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 13 March 2017

456

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

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.

Practical implications

Work should be undertaken to establish a consensus of good practice in this area. Information should be consistent, accurate and understandable.

Originality/value

This is the only research reporting on the availability and content of written information given to informal patients about their legal rights.

Keywords

Citation

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-09-2016-0019

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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