Review of a Voluntary Patient

Review of a Voluntary Patient

Section 9 Mental Health Act 2007

A voluntary patient is a person who voluntarily remains in a mental health facility for treatment, care or observation, or a person who is admitted under section 7 as a voluntary patient by their guardian. Voluntary patients are generally in hospital as they can benefit from inpatient care.

When does the Tribunal review Voluntary Patients?

The Tribunal must review a voluntary patient who remains in a mental health facility (in an involuntary or voluntary capacity) for a continuous period of more than 12 months, at least once every 12 months (s9(1)). The Medical Superintendent of the mental health facility must notify the Tribunal of the name of any voluntary patient of the hospital whose case the Tribunal is required to review (s9(5)).

What issues will the Tribunal consider at a Voluntary Patient review?

The Tribunal is required to consider whether:

  • the patient consents to continue as a voluntary patient; and
  • whether the patient is likely to benefit from further care or treatment as a voluntary patient (s9 (2)).

 In keeping with the objects and purposes of the Act, the Tribunal considers the care and treatment given to the patient, and the patient’s access to such care in the least restrictive environment.

The Tribunal may also enquire about the patient’s understanding of their rights as a voluntary patient under the Mental Health Act.  Voluntary patients must be given an oral and written statement and explanation of their rights by an Authorised Medical Officer (AMO) of the mental health facility as soon as practicable after becoming a voluntary patient.  If the AMO is of the opinion that the person was not capable of understanding the statement or explanation when it was first given, it must be given again if the person becomes capable of understanding same (74A). 

What can the Tribunal decide?

The Tribunal may order that:

  • the patient be discharged; or
  • the patient be discharged, but defer the order for discharge for up to 14 days. 

The Tribunal may also decide to make no order at all. This, in effect, indicates that the Tribunal has raised no objection to the patient continuing to be cared for on a voluntary basis in the mental health facility. 

Pease see Frequently Asked Questions for more infromation.