What is section 37 of the Mental Health Act?

Section 37 is an order to send you to hospital instead of prison. A Crown Court or Magistrates’ Court can make this order if it thinks that a hospital order is the most appropriate way of dealing with your situation.

Why am I being detained under section 37?

The Crown Court or Magistrates’ Court can give you a hospital order if:-

  • you have been charged with or convicted of an offence which could lead to a prison sentence,
  • two doctors have given evidence that;
  • you suffer from a mental disorder which is of a nature or degree which makes it appropriate for you to be detained in a hospital for medical treatment and appropriate medical treatment is available for you and;
  • the court is of the opinion, having regard to all the circumstances including the nature of the offence that the most suitable method of disposing of your case is by means of an order under this section.

How long can I be detained for?

  • You can be kept in hospital for up to 6 months under this section. The section can then be renewed for a second 6-months and yearly thereafter.

Can I object to a Guardianship Order?

The patient who will be subject to the Guardianship Order cannot object to it.

However, if the patient’s Nearest Relative objects to the Order, the AMHP cannot go ahead with the application. If this happens, the AMHP will need to apply to the local county court to have the Nearest Relative displaced.

How can I be discharged from the section?

The Mental Health Tribunal

  • You cannot appeal to the Tribunal in the first six months of being detained in hospital.   You can however, appeal once in the second six months and once during each annual period thereafter.
  • The Tribunal is independent of the hospital and made up of a panel of 3 people; a lawyer (Judge), a psychiatrist and a specialist lay member. They have the power to discharge you either immediately or defer to a future date, make a statutory recommendation for leave, make a recommendation for transfer to another hospital or order that you be placed on a guardianship.
  • They can also make a recommendation for your doctor to consider whether you should be discharged onto a Community Treatment Order.
  • They can decide to adjourn your case for  further information.
  • They can also decide not to discharge the section.

Hospital Managers

  • You can apply at any time during your detention (even during first six months).
  • Hospital Managers have the power to. discharge you from section, adjourn your case for further information or make informal recommendations.

Responsible Clinician

  • Your Responsible Clinician is the doctor responsible for your care in hospital. Your doctor can discharge you from this section (even during first six months).

Nearest Relative Powers

Your nearest relative has separate powers to apply for a Tribunal hearing. This can only be done after the first 6 months of the order.

Can I leave the hospital?

You must not leave unless your doctor tells you that you can.   if you try to leave without permission the staff are authorised to stop you and if you do leave you can be taken back to the hospital.

Will I be granted permission to leave the hospital for fresh air?

Your doctor can authorise you to leave the hospital for periods of time under section 17 Mental Health Act.  This is however, at their discretion and not an automatic right.

How can we help?

If you are subject to a Guardianship order and wish to use your right of appeal to the Tribunal, or you are a displaced Nearest Relative of someone who is subject to one of these orders, please contact our mental health team who would be happy to provide you with further advice.

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