New Independent Mental Health Advocate scheme

This page sets out the Explanatory Notes and commencement orders for the new IMHA service, which came into force on 3/11/08 in Wales and 1/4/09 in England. For details of its current operation see the Independent Mental Health Advocate service page.

Extract from Explanatory Notes

Section 30: Independent Mental Health Advocates

99. Section 30 places a duty on the appropriate national authority to make arrangements for help to be provided by independent mental health advocates (IMHAs). IMHAs must be made available to certain "qualifying patients" subject to the powers or safeguards in the 1983 Act as amended, to provide support in the ways specified in the provisions.

100. Qualifying patients will be informed that they are eligible for the services provided by an IMHA as soon as is practicable. An IMHA will meet with a patient on the request of the patient, the nearest relative, the responsible clinician or an AMHP.

101. Where a patient has the capacity to consent and does so, an IMHA has a right to see any hospital or local authority records relating to him. If a patient lacks the capacity to consent, the record holder can still allow access to such records if it is appropriate and relevant to the help the advocate will provide to the patient. IMHAs have a right to meet patients in private and to visit and interview anyone professionally concerned with the patient's medical treatment.

102. The appropriate national authority can make regulations setting out, for example, the standards and qualifications that will need to be met by an individual in order to be approved as an IMHA. These regulations can make different provision for different cases. This will allow them to take account of the different needs of different groups of patients.

103. Section 30 also amends section 134 of the 1983 Act, to ensure that hospital managers cannot withhold correspondence between patients and their advocates.



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