Case study A: Tabitha has been re-admitted to the local public hospital for psychiatric treatment. She has a Mental Health Tribunal hearing coming up to decide whether she can leave the psychiatric ward.

Case study A:

Tabitha has been re-admitted to the local public hospital for psychiatric treatment. She has a Mental Health Tribunal hearing coming up to decide whether she can leave the psychiatric ward and receive her treatment in the community. Tabitha wants to leave the hospital and go home.

Tabitha is a long-term client of a community mental health support service. She has been receiving support from Peter (a community service worker) at the support service for 5 years. She trusts Peter and has asked him to attend the Mental Health Tribunal hearing with her.

Before the Tribunal hearing, the medical treatment team must write a report on Tabitha’s medical treatment and her progress in recovering from her mental illness. In the report, the treatment team have requested that Tabitha remain in the hospital for treatment for a further 3 months. The treatment team must also advise Tabitha of the time and date of the tribunal hearing and provide her with a copy of the report that they have prepared as evidence for the tribunal. The hospital has complied with this protocol.

Peter attends the tribunal hearing with Tabitha. With Tabitha’s consent, Peter presents a written report that he has prepared which provides details of Tabitha’s past attendances at the support service. The report includes dates and times of attendance and records the successful completion by Tabitha of activities organized by the support service.

During the hearing, the Chair of the Mental Health Tribunal asks Peter to talk to the tribunal members about Tabitha’s family support and her personal relationships, including where Tabitha will go to live if she is discharged from hospital. Upon hearing this request from the Tribunal Chair, Tabitha tells Peter that she would like legal advice before she says anything further to the Tribunal.

Q1. Identify the principle of administrative law that was applied by the hospital when they advised Tabitha of the Tribunal hearing and give her a copy of their report? (2 marks)

Q2. Is Peter able to advise Tabitha on mental health law and how the law will apply in Tabitha’s circumstances? Give a reason for your answer (2 marks)

Q3. Describe what Peter can do assist Tabitha with her request for legal advice? (2 marks)

Q4. Describe the process that Peter would need to follow to obtain Tabitha’s informed consent to discuss her relationship status and living situation with the Tribunal members? (4 marks)

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