QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF C||(CLAIMANT)|
|LONDON MAUDSLEY NHS TRUST|
|MENTAL HEALTH REVIEW TRIBUNAL||(DEFENDANTS)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR VIKRAM SACHDEVA (instructed by Messrs Bevan Ashford) appeared on behalf of the FIRST DEFENDANT.
MR DAVID FORSDICK (instructed by The Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the SECOND DEFENDANT.
Crown Copyright ©
"In any case of urgent necessity, an application for admission for assessment may be made in respect of a patient in accordance with the following provisions of this section, and any application so made is [to be referred to] as 'an emergency application'.
(2) An emergency application may be made either by an approved social worker ... and every such application shall include a statement that it is of urgent necessity for the patient to be admitted and detained under section 2 above, and that compliance with ... this Part of this Act relating to applications ... would involve undesirable delay.
(3) An emergency application shall be sufficient in the first instance if founded on one of the medical recommendations required by section 2 above, given, if practicable, by a practitioner who has previous acquaintance with the patient and otherwise comply with the requirements of section 12 below so far as applicable to a single recommendation, and verifying the statement referred to in subsection (2) above.
(4) An emergency application shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of 72 hours from the time when the patient is admitted to hospital unless -
(a) the second medical recommendation required by section 2 above is given and received by the managers within that period;"
Pausing there, what Mr Wheeler did was make an emergency application on the basis of one medical practitioner. He had the recommendation of a medical practitioner - that was Mr Pierce - who, it is undisputed, was statutorily competent to give a recommendation as an approved person for that purpose.
"Q. If the medical practitioner did not know the patient before making his recommendation, please explain why you could not get a recommendation from a medical practitioner who did know the patient."
I observe that that is the form trying, in practical language, to make sense of the statutory term, namely, "if practicable a practitioner who has previous acquaintance". The social worker filled in the part of the form as "not currently known to a GP". As events have transpired that was accurate and clearly well believed by the social worker as it appears that the claimant had not been registered with a GP for some six months before the date in September when these events took place. Secondly, the social worker continued, "Not known to any psychiatrist at this centre today". It is that assertion which has been the foundation of the application that I have heard this afternoon.
"Unless there are exceptional circumstances the second medical recommendation should be provided by a doctor with previous acquaintance with the patient, (that is one who knows the patient personally in his or her professional capacity)."
His Lordship continued at paragraph 11:
"It is pointed out that the code of practice is really guidance and no more and does not have the force of a statute. In so far as it refers to personal knowledge of the patient it seems to me that one should have in mind that the words in the section are 'previous acquaintance with the patient' and that the word 'personal' is not included so that it is not necessary to establish previous personal acquaintance with the patient. Nevertheless it seems to me that the purpose of the vision is clear, namely, that the person making and signing a recommendation as the second doctor in this case must have some previous knowledge of the patient and must not be coming to him or her cold as it were."
It is unnecessary for me to consider whether that decision, which was a decision on a habeas corpus application, means that one can have an acquaintance without any previous examination by the medical practitioner.