Amendments to Mental Health (Hospital, Guardianship and Treatment) (England) Regulations 2008, enabling statutory forms to be completed electronically, were laid before parliament on 1 October 2020 and will come into force on 1 December 2020 in England.
These regulations enable many of the statutory forms used under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) to be communicated electronically.
There will be a 2-month transitional period starting 1 December 2020 to allow for the use of the old statutory forms where provided by non-electronic means. After 1 February 2021, the new forms should be used in all cases.
How will these new regulations impact on statutory bodies, nearest relatives and most importantly patients?
This is a long-awaited and welcome change for statutory bodies as it will allow a much smoother completion of statutory forms.
An order for discharge by the nearest relative by means of electronic communication to the hospital managers is always permitted and is not allowed to be rejected on the grounds of it being completed electronically.
In the case of a discharge order form sent electronically by the nearest relative to hospital managers, the new regulations mean that service is considered to have taken place at the beginning of the next business day after which it was sent.
Staff will continue to communicate statutory forms and other notifications to patients in hard copy, as well as offering the patient the option of also receiving the form electronically, if that is their preferred method of communication.