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Safeguarded treatments (Part 16)

Under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 certain treatments have special rules, known as safeguards. 

You can be given medication without your consent in the first two months of your treatment.

Treatments with special safeguards from the start include:

  • Artificial feeding
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Other treatments that act directly on your brain
  • Medication where the purpose is to reduce sex drive

After two months, you can only continue to have medication if:

  • you are capable of consenting and agree to take it, or
  • a designated medical practitioner (DMP) decides that you should have the treatment.

What is a designated medical practitioner?

Designated medical practitioners (DMPs) are experienced psychiatrists. When you need the safeguard of a DMP, your doctor will contact us and we'll ask a DMP to see you.

The DMP who comes to see you will work in a different hospital to the one you are in.

We try to make sure that the DMP has experience of working with your condition, or specialist knowledge of the treatment that is being proposed. A DMP's duties are set out in the Act. They have experience as NHS consultants and are asked to undertake independent opinions for the Commission.

What does the DMP do?

Your own doctor will put forward a plan for treating you. The DMP's job is to decide whether the treatment the doctor has put in this plan is in line with the law and is in your best interests. The DMP can only give an opinion on the specific medical treatment. The DMP cannot give a second opinion on your diagnosis or general treatment. Before making a decision, the DMP will:

  • talk to you and listen to your views about your treatment;
  • assess your mental state;
  • look at your case notes;
  • pay particular attention to an advance statement if you've made one;
  • consult others (including your named person) about your care, if practical.

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