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Section 4 – Admission for assessment in cases of emergency

Why am I being assessed?

A doctor thinks you have a mental health problem and that you must stay in hospital.

A doctor and either an approved mental health professional (AMHP) or your nearest relative put you on the section. You were probably put on this section in an emergency.

How long does it last and what happens next?

You must stay in hospital for 72 hours so that you can be seen by a second doctor to confirm whether or not you need to be kept in hospital.

If the second doctor decides that you need to stay in hospital for longer you will be put on a Section 2 or a Section 3.

If the second doctor decides that you do not need to be on a section you will be free to leave. Someone will talk to you about what other help you should have.

If the second doctor has not seen you by the end of 72 hours, you will be free to leave. You may decide to stay in hospital as a voluntary patient.

Can I be medicated against my will?

The hospital staff will tell you about any medication they think you need. You have the right to refuse any medication you do not want. Only in special circumstances, which would be explained to you, can you be given medication you do not agree to.

Can I get leave?

No. You cannot be given leave while you are on a Section 4. It is a short term section for assessment.

How can I appeal?

You can ask the Hospital Managers to let you leave hospital. You can do this at any time. Hospital Managers are an independent group of people, who are separate from the hospital. Their job is to ensure that the Mental Health Act is being correctly applied and that service users’ rights under the Act are being upheld.

You can apply to the Mental Health Tribunal to discharge you from section, although they will not take any action until they are informed that the Section 4 has been converted to a Section 2 or Section 3.

For help with an appeal speak to a member of the hospital staff.

What are my rights?

You have certain rights when you are in hospital. These include the right to:

  • Information about your section and the reasons for detention
  • Information about consent to treatment
  • Information about your rights of appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal
  • Information about how to contact a suitably qualified solicitor
  • Information on how to make a complaint
  • Information about safeguarding
  • Information about the Care Quality Commission

The Mental Health Act 1983 Code of Practice

The MHA Code of Practice should be followed by professionals who are involved in your care and treatment. The Code of Practice provides guidance to health professionals about the MHA and is also intended to be helpful to you, your family, carers, representatives, friends, advocates and anyone else who supports you. A copy of the code should be available on the ward for you to see.