— (1) The tribunal wants its rule 35 power to determine reference cases on the papers (where an adult patient does not wish to attend or be represented) to be extended from community patients to hospital-based patients. The tribunal suggests that this would be better for patients: its proposal to the TPC talks of giving patients "the right to determine how they want their case to be considered" and "respect[ing] the autonomy of those in hospital", and the conclusion states that "[t]he most important consideration is to ensure patients in hospital are afforded the same right to privacy and dignity as those in the community". However, resources and finances are major motivations: "it is an inefficient use of the Tribunal’s resources to have an oral hearing", given that "[a] judge can typically dispose of between 4 and 8 automatic references in a single day", especially if the Mental Health Bill 2022 is passed and references triple. (2) The TPC seem aware that the proposal could make matters worse: (a) they suggest "safeguarding measures" (noting that "it may be thought that there is a limit to the number of occasions on which a reference should be dealt with on the papers without providing the opportunity for a hearing which would provide additional scrutiny" and suggesting "a requirement that every second or third reference (depending on the statutory duration of each) must be considered at an oral hearing which would be able to hear the evidence of witnesses or call for additional information as required"); (b) they suggest that the rule change might be premature prior to the Bill's enactment ("it may be considered that the proposed changes may not be appropriate if the references occur only every three years as now"); (c) they note that the Senior President of Tribunals would amend the relevant PD to ensure that, contrary to the tribunal's proposal, these decisions for hospital-based patients would be made by a full panel and not a judge alone.
Full details available at: https://www.mentalhealthlaw.co.uk/TPC,_%27Consultation_on_possible_amendments_to_the_HESC_Rules_2008_regarding_proposed_changes_to_the_way_that_the_FTT_decides_cases_referred_to_the_Tribunal_pursuant_to_s68_MHA_1983%27_(consultation_from_18/7/23_to_29/8/23)?id=220723-2339