Devon Partnership NHS Trust v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

FYI This case, which will be heard in the High Court tomorrow (the 13th), will consider the correct interpretation of s.11(5) and s.12(1) of the MHA. The specific issue that will be considered is whether the requirements in those provisions that the patient is ‘personally seen’ and ‘personally examined’ can be fulfilled by remote means, without the physical presence of the relevant practitioner.


I would have thought that, if the video link provides high quality sound and vision, this should be a satisfactory substitute for face to face consultation.

Have you seen this, too.

Thank you Richard. In normal times I would have thought that video consultations could be satisfactory. However, if you take into account the potential effects of Sch.8 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (in particular the removal of the requirement in certain circumstances for two registered medical practitioners to examine the patient) then this could be a vital safeguard. I don’t think anyone could justify a system wherein you can be examined by one psychiatrist over Skype and deemed to be suffering from mental disorder as a result of that.

I look forward to hearing the outcome.

Thank you Richard for your helpful reply. With remote consultations it should always be necessary for the patient to be accompanied by a carer or advocate/intermediary who could help with ensuring that the patient understands questions being asked of him or her.
I hope it will be possible to access the High Court judgment in due course.
Best regards
Sam Ellicott
Hospital Manager MHA

Hi All

Is there any update with regard to this case?

Here is the judgment: Devon Partnership NHS Trust v SSHSC [2021] EWHC 101 (Admin).

The High Court decided that both “personally seen” and “personally examined” require the physical attendance of the person in question on the patient.

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I have added a page to the website, containing the Devon case and all the relevant guidance of which I am aware: Remote assessments and coronavirus. Please let me know if anything is missing.