Section 37: hospital order

(Redirected from Hospital order)

Either the Crown Court or magistrates’ court can impose a hospital order under s37. It is usually given after conviction. The effect is largely the same as an admission under s3.

Here we are considering unrestricted s37 patients. Restricted s37 patients (s37/41) are considered separately.

The patient is subject to the Part 4 ‘Consent to Treatment’ provisions.

Admission criteria

The admission criteria are in s37(2):

(a) the court is satisfied, on the written or oral evidence of two registered medical practitioners, that the offender is suffering from mental disorder and that either—

(i) the mental disorder from which the offender is suffering is of a nature or degree which makes it appropriate for him to be detained in a hospital for medical treatment and appropriate medical treatment is available for him; …

(b) the court is of the opinion, having regard to all the circumstances including the nature of the offence and the character and antecedents of the offender, and to the other available methods of dealing with him, that the most suitable method of disposing of the case is by means of an order under this section.

In certain (rare) circumstances the magistrates court has the power to impose a hospital order without convicting (s37(3)).

The judge may decide not to impose a hospital order in the face of medical evidence recommending it.

The court will follow Sentencing Council, 'Sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders, or neurological impairments' (1/10/20) and any other relevant sentencing guidelines.


Routes to discharge
  • Mental Health Tribunal
  • Hospital managers’ hearing (even during first six months)
  • Responsible Clinician (even during first six months)
  • No NR power to discharge (cf s2 and s3)
  • Court of Appeal
Tribunal eligibility
  • Following hospital order made by court: no application during first six-month period; once during subsequent six-month period; once during each annual period thereafter
  • (Other rules apply for notional s37 patients)
  • Nearest relative: as for patient (cf s2 and s3)
Types of discharge Same as for s3:
  • Immediate, unconditional discharge
  • Discharge deferred to future date (by Tribunal)
  • Community Treatment Order (by RC)
  • Discretionary reference by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
  • No six-month reference by hospital managers
  • Three-year reference by hospital managers (one year if under 18)

The discharge by the Tribunal of s37 unrestricted patients (and equivalent ‘notional’ s37 patients) is governed by s72(1)(b) – these patients are therefore treated by the Tribunal the same as s3 patients.


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