Hi, in my experience, the vast majority of hospitals are happy to accept copies (either electronic or paper) as long as ‘the originals’ will arrive later. But the concept of ‘originals’ is kind of old hat now. The DHSC guidance on e-forms says:
Scenario 3: transferring a patient to a new hospital
A patient is to be transferred to another hospital under section 19 and the forms authorising their detention need to be transferred to the new hospital.
The forms were originally made out and submitted electronically and they have been stored as such by the current hospital.
Staff at the current hospital wish to email the forms to the new hospital but they refuse to receive them in an electronic format as they are worried about the validity of the electronic forms. The hospital staff are unsure how to proceed.
Electronic forms are equivalent in status to paper forms. Neither is more valid than the other.
This means that, if the forms authorising an individual’s detention are in an electronic format and they need to be transferred from one hospital to another, there should be no question over the validity of these forms by the receiving hospital simply by virtue of their being electronic.
Scenario 4: making rectifications under section 15 of the MHA
A detention application form was originally furnished in hard copy, but for the purposes of moving to an entirely digital system, an electronic version of the form was created and stored.
An error is spotted in the form and the administrator is unsure which version of the form should be rectified as they are unsure which should be considered the original.
They are also unsure how to keep a record of any rectifications made to the electronic version of the form.
Firstly, it is important to note that section 15 doesn’t say anything about “original” forms. Therefore, so long as one version of the form is rectified, section 15 would be satisfied.
The guidance also says that ambulance staff do not need to have copies of the MHA forms when taking a patient to hospital via the delegated authority of an AMHP. It supersedes the Code on this point. It doesn’t say anything about forms having to go with an ambulance during a s19 transfer, but neither does the Code, so it would be a pretty safe bet to think the same principle applies. I’d suggest that as long as the ambulance crew has the H4, or are satisfied that an H4 has already been sent and that the receiving hospital are prepared to accept the patient, all should be well. here’s what the guidance says about transporting during admission:
Scenario 2: delegating transport of the patient during admission
The AMHP coordinating the patient’s admission to hospital is unable to transport them to hospital and so they wish to delegate the responsibility to ambulance staff.
The ambulance staff insist that the paper forms are needed before they can lawfully transport the patient.
The AMHP is unable to provide the ambulance staff with the paper versions of the admission form and medical recommendations as these are in an electronic format.
A paper copy of the form is not needed to indicate that conveyance is lawful so long as the AMHP can provide evidence of a completed application supported by the necessary medical recommendations.
We know that it is stated in the code of practice that the paper forms should be given to the person authorised to transport the patient. However, as stated above, this aspect of the code is superseded by this guidance.
If staff wish to offer additional reassurance to ambulance or police staff, where forms are in an electronic format, we are aware that some trusts have created a paper slip that provides key information to the person authorised to transport the patient.