You can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) if you are admitted (‘detained’) as a patient in a psychiatric hospital (‘sectioned’) and want to be discharged.
You can apply on a patient’s behalf if you are their:
- legal representative
- ‘nearest relative’
The tribunal is independent of government and will listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision.
You can also apply to the tribunal if you want to change:
- a community treatment order
- the conditions placed on your ‘conditional discharge’ from hospital
When to apply
When you apply depends on how you were admitted - ask your doctor or lawyer (if you have one) if you are unsure.
There are deadlines for the first time you apply - you must apply within:
- 14 days if you have been admitted for assessment (‘section 2’)
- 6 months if you have been admitted for treatment (‘section 3’)
Get legal advice if you are a ‘restricted patient’, for example you have received an order from the Crown Court or been transferred from prison- the deadlines depend on your situation.
If you miss the deadline
You cannot apply to be discharged if you miss the deadline but you may be able to apply again later, for example after a year if you have been admitted for treatment (‘section 3’).
The tribunal will automatically look at your case again after a certain period of time. This is sometimes known as a ‘referral’. The period of time depends on your case, for example:
- if it has been 3 years since the tribunal gave you a hearing
- you have not had a hearing in the first 6 months of your detention
Help you can get
You can get legal aid if you are a patient.
You can also get advice from:
- Apply to the tribunal
- After you send your appeal
- What happens at the hearing
- The tribunal's decision
For further information: