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Your Mental Health Rights

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust provides care to patients who have a primary physical need for care, but may also have mental health needs. The Trust takes patients’ rights very seriously.

This section of our website outlines your rights in relation to mental health during your care at one of our hospitals, such as what happens if you are not able to make decisions for yourself.

The Mental Health Act

The Mental Health Act 1983 covers the rights, assessment and treatment of people experiencing mental health needs. The act details the process that needs to take place in order to detain a patient under a section of the Mental Health Act and the rights of the individual.

Via the Mental Health Act 2007, the government updated the 1983 Act to ensure it keeps pace with the changes in the way that mental health services are and should be delivered.

The Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act 2007 covers all sorts of situations where people aged 16 years and over need to make a decision about something that affects them, but may be unable to do so (they lack capacity to make the decision). It allows for people to plan ahead in case they may lack capacity in the future.

The Mental Capacity Act allows somebody to make decisions for a patient if they are not able to make decisions for themselves. The same rules apply whether the decisions are major life-changing events or everyday matters.

The five key principles of the Mental Capacity Act are:

  • A person must be presumed to have capacity to make a decision unless proved otherwise
  • Someone cannot be treated as lacking capacity until all practical steps have been taken to help them to make their own decision. If someone has to make a decision for someone else they should still involve that person as much as possible
  • Just because someone wants to do something that most people consider unwise, strange or eccentric, this does not necessarily mean they lack capacity
  • If a decision is made for someone else it must be in their best interests
  • Any interference in someone’s right to make decisions must take the form of the least restrictive option, and respect their basic rights and freedoms

Independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA)

An independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) helps and represents people who lack capacity to make a decision when there is no-one else to ask and when certain serious decisions might be about to be made on their behalf. The IMCA looks at the way the decision is being made, but does not make the decision on behalf of the person they represent.

If you lack capacity to make a serious decision during your care at one of our hospitals, we may arrange for you to be assigned an IMCA. They are independent of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, and must always aim to ensure that the best interests of the person are being considered.

Lasting Power of Attorney

The Mental Capacity Act allows you (if you are over 18 and have the capacity to do so) to appoint someone to make decisions about your personal welfare or property and affairs should you ever lack the capacity to make these decisions yourself. This is done by setting up a legal document called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

Living Wills/ Advanced Directive: Stating your wishes in advance

The Mental Capacity Act enables you to write down wishes and preferences about care or other aspects of your life that you want healthcare professionals to be aware of when they are looking after you and you may be unable to tell them yourself. This is known as making an ‘advance statement’.

Should you lack capacity to make a decision for yourself, a decision maker is required to take this advance statement into account when considering your best interests. You should note that it is not legally binding on decision makers, but a decision maker should give reasons why it was not possible to carry out your requests.

The NHS Choices website has more information about about the Mental Capacity Act

Contact the Trust

For more information, please contact our Named Nurse for Safeguarding Adults on telephone 024 7696 7214 or via switchboard 024 7696 4000

or you can speak with the University Hospital Health Information Centre on telephone 024 7696 6051

Further links

MIND – guidance on the Mental Health Act