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Modernising Mental Health Practice: New Regulations Enable Sending of Statutory Forms Electronically

by Erica Ffrench

Invicta Law’s Erica Ffrench looks at new regulations which modernise mental health practice by enabling the sending of statutory forms electronically

An amendment to the Mental Health (Hospital, Guardianship and Treatment) (England) Regulations 2008 came into force on 1 December 2020. This amendment applies to England only and enables many of the statutory forms and other documents required under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) to be sent electronically, rather than a requirement that they be delivered in hard copy.

There is an important caveat that in most cases, except where applying to detain a patient under the MHA, the forms can only be effective if sent electronically where the recipient agrees to accept them electronically.

However, where a recipient is a patient under the MHA, the status quo remains that all forms and notifications must continue to be served in hard copy.

The 2020 regulations also include minor changes to the statutory forms themselves. A grace period of 2 months will apply until 1 February 2021 for older versions of the forms to be used when submitting in hard copy, after which time the new forms should be used in all cases. For forms electronically submitted, the new versions of the forms should be used straightaway.

The Government has issued guidance around the subject, and it is worth noting that they emphasise that such guidance supersedes any conflicting guidance on the subject contained within the MHA Code of Practice, and the Reference Guide to the MHA.

You can read the Government’s more detailed guidance here, including further information on:

  • Electronic communication of forms under the 2008 regulations
  • Serving the AMHP’s application for detention electronically
  • Communication of statutory forms to the patient
  • General principles on the electronic communication and storage of forms
  • Transitional arrangements

You can also click on the following link to view the Mental Health (Hospital, Guardianship and Treatment) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 which is mentioned at the bottom of the guidance.

Invicta Law’s Community Care team can assist with advice in respect of mental health law or adult social care generally. We provide pragmatic solutions for clients, delivering high quality legal advice at competitive rates.

Get in touch with Kerry Short for more information or call 01622 392000 to see how we can assist you.

Contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute professional or legal advice. Invicta Law cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.


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