On 23 March we stopped conducting in-person hearings at health services due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We have continued conducting hearings by videoconference and telephone but have not had the capacity to conduct all hearings.
As a result, a large number of treatment orders are expiring because the Tribunal is unable to conduct a hearing. We understand this has a significant impact on patients, carers and health services.
We are working to establish new systems to conduct more hearings by telephone and videoconference and expect to able to able to conduct our normal number of hearings by the end of May 2020. We will provide another update if this goal becomes unachievable.
Until we can conduct all the hearings required under the Mental Health Act we will continue to prioritise hearings as follows:
Priority 1 - Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) applications for adults unable to give informed consent and patients under 18 years old to ensure ECT remains available for these patients
Priority 2 - Hearings about a treatment order for patients who have not had a hearing about their current episode of treatment (this includes patients on Temporary Treatment Orders)
Priority 3 - Hearings about a treatment order for patients who have had a Tribunal hearing about their current episode of treatment before (this includes patients on a Treatment Order)
If a treatment order expires because the Tribunal fails to conduct a hearing, treating teams continue to be able to consider making a new Assessment Order and Temporary Treatment Order if they are satisfied the criteria are met.