Emergency legislation to correct a loophole found in the law on mental health sectioning has been approved by the Commons.
It corrects a technical error affecting up to 5,000 patients sectioned under the Mental Health Act since 2002.
The error meant doctors who sectioned patients in England did not have the right authority to do so.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt insists all were qualified to make the clinical decisions and that no patient was wrongly detained.
Mr Hunt said:
We believe that all the proper clinical processes were gone through when these patients were detained. They were detained by medically qualified doctors. We believe that no one is in hospital who shouldn’t be and no patients have suffered because of this.
But for the avoidance of any remaining doubt, and in the interests of the safety of patients themselves, as well as the potential concerns of their families and the staff who care for them, we are introducing emergency legislation to clarify the position.
The Department of Health has asked Dr Geoffrey Harris, chairman of NHS South and former chairman of Buckinghamshire Mental Health Trust, to undertake an independent review to look at how this responsibility was delegated by these four SHAs, and, more broadly, the governance and assurance processes that all SHAs use for delegating any responsibilities.
All doctors involved have now been approved under the correct processes.
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