Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland, 'Covid-19 Outbreak - Important Update' (19/3/20)
Scottish MHT's coronavirus guidance The MHTS intends to hold all hearings by teleconference from Monday 23/3/20. The update details how this will work in practice, including assisting patients to participate in proceedings.
The web page is undated but it is believed that the guidance is dated 19/3/20.
The only URL available is to the generic news page, so it is anticipated that the guidance will soon disappear from view. The full text is provided below (emphasis in original).
You will no doubt be well aware of the regularly updated advice being given by the UK and Scottish Governments regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. Given the escalation of this advice in recent days, MHTS intends to hold all hearings by teleconference from Monday 23 March 2020 onwards. Specific instructions on taking part in a hearing by teleconference will be sent to you for each Tribunal that you are involved in.
During this period, MHTS will rely on members of the care team to support patients by assisting them to participate in proceedings. As you will realise, certain parties are entitled under the legislation to give evidence and make representations. This always includes the patient. Where the patient is based in a hospital and wishes to take part in their hearing, a member of the hospital staff would be expected to accompany the patient for the duration of the hearing – for instance, as an escort nurse would in a standard Tribunal setting. For patients based in the community, we would hope that support for a patient could be provided by an MHO, an advocacy worker or a solicitor.
For patients detained in hospital who wish to participate in their hearing, the normal hearing suite may be available, or a quiet room off the ward could be used. In individual cases, a named person, solicitor or advocacy worker may also be able to attend with the patient in the same room, if this does not conflict with local arrangements. When planning for such attendance, checks will need to be made that a connected landline still exists in the room, or that a mobile phone can be made available for the call. The teleconferencing number is a free of charge number.
For patients in the community who wish to attend hearings, and do not wish to/cannot do so by phone from home, we anticipate that there will be limited availability of rooms in particular public buildings still open. We are making provision for these in different parts of the country. Those wishing to take up that possibility will need to advise in advance, and to be accompanied by a supporter (for example, a named person, solicitor, advocacy worker or family member) and should contact Operations for details of what is available and to make arrangements.
Whether in hospital or in the community, the RMO may also wish to be in the room to take part with the patient.
This limited provision for physical attendance should still serve to minimise the number of people in close proximity during a hearing. Those who do attend should practise good hand hygiene and should follow the Scottish Government’s guidelines on social distancing, for example avoiding handshakes or other physical contact, and endeavouring to maintain a distance of one metre between individuals.
Thank you in advance for your help during this time.
Laura J Dunlop QC