Mental Health Law

The Mental Health Law for Guernsey came into action in April 2013. This law is in line with the practices in the UK with the exception that an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) is not required by law.

What does it mean to be sectioned?

To be sectioned is to be voluntarily or compulsorily held at a place of safety because you require treatment for a limited period or there is an urgent concern that you will harm yourself or someone else. A diagnosis of a mental health condition must be given when you are sectioned and information given to you about the condition and why you need to be in a safe place.

Contact the Mental Health Administrator on 01481 725241 or MHLAdmin@hssd.gov.gg

Use the quick links to go to the relevant section:

Patient Rights

Types of Orders

Frequently Asked Questions

Patient Rights

How long can I be sectioned for?

You can be sectioned at an in-patient unit from as little as 8 hours with a Nurse's Holding Power to up to 6 months with aTreatment Order. A Treatment Order can be renewed initially for up to 6 months and thereafter for periods of 12 months. The Guernsey Police Station is a designated place of safety where you can be held under a Police Urgency Order for up to 72 hours. A Community Treatment Order allows for compulsory treatment in a community setting for up to 6 months. It can be renewed initially for up to 6 months and thereafter for periods of 12 months.

Follow the link for more information on Types of Orders.

Who can section me?

All compulsory orders, except for the short-term holding orders, must be applied for by an Approved Social Worker. A recommendation for you to be sectioned can be made by the following:

·       Responsible Medical Officers
·       Registered Mental Health Nurses
·       General Practitioners
·       Police 

Am I entitled to be represented?

Yes - A patient has the right to choose a person whom they wish to act in their interests and with whom they give consent for information about their care and treatment to be shared. These can include: a family member, carer, friend, neighbour or clergyman etc. You do not have the right to appoint an Independent Mental Health Advocate in Guernsey.

Can I refuse medical treatment?

Yes - Consent to medical treatment is required from all patients with the capacity to consent. To make an informed choice the law requires that you are given adequate information to make a sound judgement.This includes the purpose of the medication, its nature, likely effects and risks of that treatment. This information can also be shared with your nominated person if you consent. The assessment of your capacity is based on clinical judgement.

Do some treatments require my consent?

Yes - Neurosurgery and the surgical implantation of hormones for the reduction of male sexual drive require your consent and a second opinion. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) requires a second opinion, but may be given without your consent if you are deemed not to have capacity. If a treatment requires consent this can be sought by your Responsible Medical Officer or nominated person. 

Do I have the right to a second opinion about my medication?

Yes - You can apply to an independent Second Opinion Appointed Doctor after 3 months if you are concerned that your medication is not appropriate. This opinion may be sought from the UK to ensure a completely independent opinion. 

How can I appeal against being sectioned?

An appeal can be made after 5 days of an initial order being made and thereafter once during every 6 month period of detention.An appeal is made to the Mental Health Review Tribunal Panel. This consists of 3 people: the Chair (a qualified legal practitioner), an independent Consultant Psychiatrist and one lay member. The panel can discharge you, recommend periods of leave from hospital or recommend a transfer from in-patient to community treatment. You are entitled to free legal representation.

What can I expect from the inpatient ward?

The inpatient ward is seen as a safe environment for which a detained person can receive the relevant treatment for their mental health condition. If you are a compulsory patient you will not be able to leave the ward except if accompanied by a member of staff or if agreed by the Responsible Medical Officer or Mental Health Review Tribunal Panel.

How can I make a complaint about my treatment?

Complaints can be made through the Mental Health Service Users Group. Contact mhsug.guernsey@gmail.com or call Guernsey Mind on 01481 722959.

Types of Orders

The Mental Health Law details a set of compulsory orders that are invoked when an individual needs to be detained for their own health and safety or the safety of others. They must be formally diagnosed as suffering from a mental health condition for which they require inpatient treatment. A community treatment order is used when an individual needs to be supervised for their own health or safety, or for the protection of others, or to prevent exploitation by others. There are six types of compulsory orders under the law:

Assessment Order

  • This allows an individual to be sectioned at an inpatient unit for up to 28 days.
  • It requires an application to be made by the Approved Social Worker and 1 medical recommendation. This could be from the patients GP or a Consultant Psychiatrist.
  • The individual can make an application to the Mental Health Review Panel (MRHP) after 5 days.
  • After 28 days an application must be made for a Treatment Order or the sectioning no longer applies.

Treatment Order

  • This allows an individual to be sectioned at an inpatient unit for up to 6 months.
  • It requires an application to be made by the Approved Social Worker and 2 medical recommendations with no more than 5 days between the 2 medical examinations.
  • Individuals may make an application to the MHRP once during each 6 month period of detention.

Police Urgency Order

  • This allows for compulsory admission to a Place of Safety for up to 72 hours, allowing the individual to be interviewed by an Approved Social Worker and medical officer. 
  • Grounds for the Police Urgency Order require the individual to in a public place and appears to be suffering from a mental health condition that warrants sectioning for a limited period or the individual needs to be detained for their own health or safety, or for the protection of others.
  • Treatment can only be administered with the individual's valid consent.

Medical Holding

  • Medical Holding allows for the admission of a voluntary patient for a period not exceeding 72 hours.
  • This is usually applied to a voluntary patient who has expressed their desire to leave hospital before there is time to complete an assessment or treatment order based on concerns for the safety of the patient and/or others.
  • Medical Holding is extended to all appropriate doctors in charge of the patient's care at that time.

Nurse Holding

  • Nurse's holding power will allow a Registered Mental Health Nurse to detain a voluntary patient who is already being treated for a mental health condition, for up to 8 hours.
  • It can only be applied if the patient is either indicating verbally or otherwise that they do not wish to leave hospital; and it is not possible to immediately obtain a doctor for the purpose of applying a Medical Holding.
  • This order cannot be renewed and ends after 8 hours or on application of a Medical Holding.

Community Treatment Order

  • This allows for compulsory treatment in a community setting for up to 6 months. It is renewable, in the first instance for a further 6 months, and thereafter each 12 months.
  • He/ She is suffering from a mental health condition of a nature that requires treatment and supervision in the community.
  • He/ She needs to be supervised for their own health or safety, or for the protection of others. 
  • Community Treatment Orders require the patient to reside at a specified place and convey them there if necessary
  • It requires the patient to attend at places and times specified for the purpose of medical treatment, occupation, education or training.
  • Application for a Community Treatment Order can be made by a Responsible Medical Officer (RMO) and requires two medical recommendations from the RMO and the patients GP.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be sectioned?

To be sectioned is to be detained through a compulsory order for the safety of yourself and/or others. A diagnosis of a mental health condition must be given with the sectioning.

How long can I be sectioned for?

Excluding the Community Treatment Order a person can be sectioned from as little as 8 hours with Nurse Holding to 6 months with a Treatment Order in an inpatient unit. A Community Treatment Order can be issued after the initial 6 month sectioning with a Treatment Order which can be renewed after 6 months and each 12 months thereafter.

Who can section me?

  • Responsible Medical Officers
  • Registered Mental Health Nurses
  • General Practitioners
  • Police

Why am I being sectioned?

You will be sectioned if you are showing signs of suffering from a mental health condition that warrants detention for a limited period and/or if you need to be detained for your own safety or the safety of others.

Do I have the right to a second opinion?

Yes - A second opinion can be made through a Responsible Medical Officer or your GP.

Am I entitled to be represented?

Yes - A patient has the right to choose a person whom they wish to act in their interests and with whom they give consent for information about their care and treatment to be shared. These can include: A family member, carer, friend, neighbour or clergyman etc.

Can I refuse treatment?

Yes - Unless you no longer have the capacity to refuse treatment or give consent for said treatment.

How can I appeal against a sectioning?

An appeal can be made through the Mental Health Review Tribunal Panel. This consists of 3 people: the Chair (a qualified legal practitioner), an independent Consultant Psychiatrist and one lay member.

What can I expect from the inpatient ward?

The inpatient ward is seen as a safe environment for which a detained person can receive the relevant treatment for their mental health condition.

How can I make a complaint about my treatment?

Complaints are made through the Mental Health Law Administrator or through Guernsey Mind (See Contact Us)