Doctor 'overrode decision on patient'

A PSYCHIATRIST overrode the official tribunal that had ordered the release of a woman detained under the Mental Health Act, and immediately had her recommitted to hospital for another six months, a High Court judge was told yesterday.

The mental health pressure group, MIND, believes that if the action of the doctor and hospital managers is upheld, it will open a loophole in the law.

Lawyers for the woman, Eleanor Mulcahy, 39, of Clapham, south London, were asking for a writ of habeas corpus (the right, enshrined in Magna Carta, not to be detained without trial) arguing that the doctor and hospital managers at the South Western Hospital in Clapham had to abide by the findings of the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

Miss Mulcahy, who has four children aged between two and eight, had first applied for a writ of habeas corpus on 21 December, hoping to spend Christmas at home with her family. The judge then ordered yesterday's hearing before Mr Justice Laws to be at the earliest possible date. Only emergency courts sit in the legal vacation between Christmas and new year.

Patients can be detained under the Act if two doctors and a social worker think they may be a danger to themselves or others, or if they refuse proper treatment outside hospital.

Robert Buchan, for Miss Mulcahy, said she had first been detained under section 4 of the 1982 Mental Health Act on 30 November for three days, after lighting fires inside her flat.

The court heard she had taken tiles off the bathroom wall to make a base for the fires, because all the power to the block of flats had been cut off by a flood. She had also been cooking over a fire in a bucket.

On 3 December she was detained for a further 28 days under section 2 of the Act. She had then absconded from 4-7 December, after complaining of side effects from drugs she was being treated with.

The next day Dr Robin Lawrence had examined her and noted that she needed to be treated with a new drug, and to be in hospital for some weeks. He described her in a report to the hospital's managers as 'totally lacking in insight'.

The patient wrote to Dr Lawrence saying she had no confidence in him, and saying she would be prepared to be treated by another doctor, and appealed to a Mental Health Review Tribunal. The Mental Health Act says tribunals must be held within seven days, and Miss Mulcahy's case was heard on 16 December.

The tribunal, heard by a panel of three, a doctor, a lawyer and a lay member, had heard evidence from witnesses including Dr Lawrence, and ordered that Miss Mulcahy should be released three days later.

Mr Buchan told the judge yesterday that Dr Lawrence had then arranged for the patient to be detained again under a different part of the Act, section 3. Mr Buchan argued that this was an abuse of powers, because there had been no deterioration in Mis Mulcahy's condition between the two events.

Parliament had intended to remove the power to detain patients from medical personnel and give it to statutory tribunals, he argued. 'The status of a tribunal is not one which can be ignored by medical personnel,' he said.

Richard Gordon, for Dr Lawrence and the hospital managers, said the Mental Health Act intended it to be possible for section 3 to be used for a new detention if a tribunal had ordered release on a section 2 hearing.

The case is expected to end today.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
tv

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
film
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Secondary Teacher Great Yarmouth

£115 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad are currently work...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

Special Needs Learning Support Assistant

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

PMLD Teacher

£120 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leiceste...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes