WHO Guide to Mental and Neurological Health in Primary Care
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Homepage :: Legal issues :: Assessment under the Mental Health Act England and Wales 1983 :: Before the assessment

Before the assessment

Information is an important component of the assessment.

If you can access your records, check for previous history and response to treatment, risk of neglect, violence or self harm, any known contact names.

If there is a relative or informant, ask about the recent situation, its duration, whether there is any support, whether there have been threats or violence and if the patient is known to carry or have access to weapons.

Liaise with the ASW about directions, access to premises, where to meet and the need for police attendance.

It is good practice because it is safer, communication is better and disruption of the patient is minimised if the medical assessments take place jointly with the ASW at the same agreed time, (though if this is not possible, they are legally allowed to be 5 days apart. In any case, the two doctors must discuss their decision).

If the patient is suffering from the short term effect of drugs, alcohol or sedative medication, discussion should take place about deferring the assessment until a more productive interview can take place.

If access to home is denied, section 135 (Warrant to search for and remove patients) may need to be used. This warrant is obtained by an Approved Social Worker (ASW) from a Magistrates' Court.

Last edited: 15/12/2003

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