The admission of children and adolescents to adult mental health wards and the duty to provide age-appropriate services

Care Quality Commission
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The revision of the Mental Health Act 1983 with effect from 3 November 2008 makes some significant changes to the law relating to the admission and treatment of children and adolescents in psychiatric hospital. In particular, Section 131A of the revised Mental Health Act creates a duty upon hospital managers to accommodate children and young people who are admitted for treatment of mental disorder in an environment suitable for their age, subject to their needs. The legal duty does not mean that no child or adolescent may be admitted to an adult ward, as it is conceivable that particular security or specialist needs of the patient would make placement on an adult ward the most appropriate arrangement. This Guidance Note should be viewed as supplementary to the Code of Practice’s discussion of the ‘age appropriate services’ duty. It considers: staff and training issues; information, rights, consent and advocacy; access to education and appropriate activities; and the ward environment.

Subject terms:
mental health law, hospital admission, psychiatric care, young people, child and adolescent mental health services, children;
Content type:
practice guidance

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