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New guide on patients’ rights to appeal against excessive security

Publication date: 16 Dec, 2021

The Mental Welfare Commission has today published a new good practice guide setting out how and when appeals against excessive security can be made by people who are being treated for mental ill health in high and medium secure hospital units in Scotland.

The guide also outlines the responsibilities of health boards and other public bodies to find beds on more suitable wards for patients who have won their appeal and are waiting to move.

The Commission is concerned over delays for many of those patients, and is concerned about the impact that being held in excessive security can have on an individual.

Scotland has one high security hospital, the State Hospital, and three medium secure units. All individuals in these setting are detained, meaning they are so unwell that their treatment is compulsory. 

People receive care and treatment on high or medium secure wards only when their condition is deemed to be such that this is the best setting for them. 

Julie Paterson, chief executive, Mental Welfare Commission, said:

“Taking away personal freedoms is a serious responsibility, and must only be done when in the best interests of the individual and society, and for the shortest time.

“This is so important to a person’s recovery and wellbeing, and is vital in protecting their human rights.

“We created this guide because we are regularly contacted about patients who have won appeals but are waiting to move, often because a suitable bed elsewhere has not been identified.

“Our guide sets out legal considerations and roles and responsibilities. 

“I hope the guide provides useful information for all those with an interest or responsibility in ensuring that people are not subject to excessive security but receive the right care in the right setting for them”