S2 detained patient now AWOL

A patient who is detained under S2 has gone AWOL with the S2 expiring in a few days.

Please could I have advice on any procedures I, as an MHAA would have to carry out if they do not return before the S2

where the patient is absent without leave during the final week of detention – authority for detention can then be extended for up to 7 days, beginning with the day of recapture/return
A section 2 patient cannot be re-ttaken after the section expires - see ss21A of MHA


I’ve never really had to grip s21 situations, so can I just clarify what I think you’re saying -

  • If s2 MHA patient absconds on day 27 of their admission, they can be retaken that day or the next day, but not on day 29. << My question about this would be, how the wording of s21(1) supports this point given it neither specifies ‘assessment’ or ‘treatment’ - just talks about someone who is AWOL on the day their admission.
  • If a s3 MHA patient absconds one day before the end of their six-month s3 admission, then they can be retaken under s18 MHA so that gives the seven days you refer to.

Have I understood that correctly? Sorry to ask: fully admit, I’ve never really understood s21 when I’ve read it in the past!

Section 21 allows for detention to be extended for one week from the date of return, if the patient returns to hospital within one week of the end of the period that they can be returned. So in the case of s.2 that would be from the day of return in the final week of the 28 day detention period. In the case of s.3/37, it would be from the day of return in the final week of the period set out in s.18(4).

Thank you for your reply. I’ve been re-reading a lot over the last day.

The patient under S2 went AWOL I think on about day 18, and is still yet to return. The s2 ends Saturday and there still has been no joy in finding them.

From looking at these comments, and assuming they are not returned to hospital before the s2 ends, this just lapses and there is nothing more we can do?

If they are returned, it will be in the last week of the s2 so it could be extended?

Apologies, I have never had to deal with an AWOL patient

That’s right, Abbey.

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Thanks, Guy - so: just double / triple checking:

  • s2 MHA patient absconds on day 27 and not found until day 30. Obviously no power to re-detain under s18 so everything starts again from scratch with either use of s136 by the police or new MHAA by an AMHP?

  • s2 MHA patient absconds on day 16 and found by the police on day 24. Can obviously be re-detained under s18 MHA and once back in hospital, they get seven days to consider whether to detain under s3 or discharge home.

  • s3 MHA patient absconds 48hrs before s3 expires and found by the police let’s say 7 days after the s3 expires. Because s18 applies for six months after AWOL, the police can re-detain s18 MHA and then the hospital gets seven days to consider a renewal application under s20 MHA.

Sorry that’s long: but you seem to be in the know!

That’s right and additionally for s.3, s.21 also applies if the patient returns during the final week of the s.18 retake period. So if the s.3 was of 6 months duration, it would be the final week of the 6 month period after going AWOL, and if the s.3 was of 12 month duration and the patient went AWOL during the first 6 months, it would be the final week of the 12 month detention period.

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