Section 136 - nearest relative

Hi, can a nearest relative be contacted under section 136 when there is no continued detention and px is discharged?


I would say only if the patient consents.



‘can’ they be contacted- as long as the contact complies with S132(4), then yes. But if you can find a hospital or a ‘health based place of safety’ which robustly complies with S132(4) I’ll be impressed. I strongly suspect S132 was not written with health based places of safety in mind, and PACA didn’t take the opportunity to amend it when S136 was amended, either.

The official information leaflet which came out along with the PACA amendments to s136 says:

“ Letting your nearest relative know A copy of this leaflet will be given to the person the Mental Health Act says is your nearest relative. There is a list of people in the Mental Health Act who are treated as your relatives. Normally, the person who comes highest in that list is your nearest relative. The hospital staff can give you a leaflet which explains this and what rights your nearest relative has in connection with your care and treatment. In your case, we have been told that your nearest relative is: If you do not want this person to receive a copy of the leaflet, please tell your nurse or another member of staff.”

I’d be very surprised if this is complied with consistently around the country. It would require nursing staff to understand and apply S26 (something highly trained AMHPs can struggle with at the best of times) in very fast-moving and sometimes chaotic situations. And it would require the sending of the leaflet, which would likely involve the MHA administrator. And it is rare for MHA administrators to have much involvement with S136, due to the lack of any statutory forms or appeal rights.

There are probably examples around the country of hospitals which do all this very well, and there will be a sliding scale downwards from there.


I’m just a little concerned that using sub-section 4 of section 132 might be an unacceptable stretch. It applies to detention under 136. Could you apply it on or after dischargevPx? I accept the legislation doesn’t address this point.
However as ss1 seems to be about reasons for the detention and appeal rights, I can an see an issue.

Sorry, I found the attachment pertaining to section 136. So you are asking if the patient is released from emergency do they still contact your nearest relative?

Royal College of Emergency Medicine, ‘A brief guide to Section 136 for Emergency Departments’ (December 2017)

Thank you all, I won’t go into detail as think this will be a legal action. I was the person under section 136 and this is one of many unethical decisions by the AMHP.