Reports are required in the following areas: medical, social circumstances, and nursing. The Practice Direction on reports (Practice Direction: First-tier Tribunal Health Education and Social Care Chamber: Statements and Reports in Mental Health Cases, 28/10/13) explain what content is required.
In AF v Nottinghamshire NHS TrustM,  MHLO 43 the social circumstances report was written by a nurse who did not attend the hearing. The Upper Tribunal stated that the law does not require the author to be a social worker or CPN, or to be different to the other reports’ authors, or to attend the hearing, or to include details about s117 after-care in cases where the patient has not progressed to the point where the issue would arise. (The last point is considered further elsewhere in the context of adjournments.) The question is whether any deficits in the evidence had led to an unlawful decision, and this must be judged on the facts of the individual case.
With two exceptions, the responsible authority must send the necessary documents ‘so that it is received by the Tribunal as soon as practicable and in any event within 3 weeks after the responsible authority made the reference or received a copy of the application or reference’ (rule 32(6)). In practice, for detained patients, it is the hospital’s Mental Health Act Administrator who sends the report to the Tribunal. In relation to the exceptions:
- The first exception to the above rule relates to conditionally-discharged patients (rule 32(4)): in those cases it is the Responsible Clinician and Social Supervisor, having been named by the Secretary of State for Justice, who must send the documents.
- The second exception relates to s2 patients (rule 32(5)): the documents specified in the Practice Direction must be sent ‘as soon as practicable’; additionally, the following documents must immediately be sent
‘on the earlier of receipt of the copy of the application or a request from the Tribunal’: a. the application for admission; b. the medical recommendations on which the application is founded
A final requirement relates only to restricted cases. This is that the Secretary of State must send specified information ‘as soon as practicable’; for conditional-discharge automatic-reference cases, within two weeks of receiving the responsible authority statement; for other cases, within three weeks (rule 32(7A), (7B)).
The MoJ/MHT protocol (entitled ‘Guidance for the conduct of cases before the restricted patient panel’, dated 29 March 2016) sets out the responsibilities of the MoJ and MHT in the Tribunal procedure. For instance, the protocol provides that no MoJ comments are required in the following circumstances: (1) for initial reports, the MoJ have had the reports for 21 days; (2) for subsequent reports, including addendum and independent reports, the MoJ have received the reports at all.