§ Mr. Dempsey
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if his attention has been drawn to the comments of Lord Kilbrandon, when giving judgment in a case in the Court of Session on 19th February, regarding defects in the operation of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act; if he will introduce legislation to remedy these defects; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Noble
Lord Kilbrandon's comments related to an informal patient who left Aberdeen Royal Mental Hospital against medical advice.
The provisions of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act, 1960, which allow admission to hospital without formality of patients suffering from mental disorder were generally welcomed; in 1961 11,733 patients were so admitted. It is a corollary of informal admission that the patients concerned should normally be free to leave hospital at will.
An informal patient who proposes to leave hospital can be detained under compulsory powers, but whether this should be done in a particular case is and must remain a matter for clinical judgment. The Act already provides for the need to protect the community being taken into account when detention is being considered and there is also a simple procedure for emergency detention in circumstances of urgency. I see no reason, therefore, for amending legislation.