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Section 37 - Mental Health Act

What Is Section 37?

Section 37 is one of a number of hospital orders made by either the Magistrates or Crown Court requiring the person’s detention in hospital. 

Anybody who is convicted of an imprisonable offence (other than murder and certain offences where the sentence is fixed by law) and the Magistrates or Judge consider the most suitable option is for the person to go to hospital instead of to prison or being given some other type of sentence can be given a hospital order. There does not have to be a link between the perceived mental disorder and the offence for which the person is brought before the Court.

How Long Does It Last?

The section lasts for up to 6 months. After the first 6 months, it can be renewed for a further 6 months. After the second six months the section can be renewed at yearly intervals.

How Does A Section 37 Hospital Order End?

  1. The patients’ responsible clinician can discharge them at any time.
  2. The Hospital Managers can discharge the patient. They review reports, usually prepared by your doctor, social worker and nurse and ask them questions and should also speak to you to find out what your wishes are. They can also adjourn for further information or make informal recommendations about your case.
  3. The Tribunal can discharge the patient either immediately or on a set date. This is a more in-depth review of the case carried out by an independent body consisting of a lawyer, psychiatrist and a representative of the public. A patient can only apply to a Tribunal to consider their case after they have been detained for 6 months and then after each annual renewal.
  4. If the order is not renewed the section expires and the patient is no longer detained.

The First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health)

The Tribunal can discharge the patient or make formal recommendations about leave, transfer to another hospital, guardianship or discharge from hospital on a community treatment order.

If an application is made to the Tribunal for a hearing, reports will be provided by the professionals involved in the person’s detention. At the hearing, the procedure is informal, but the patient does have the right to challenge evidence given by the professionals involved in their detention and to give their own evidence.

Section 17 Leave

This allows the patient to leave the hospital grounds for a period of time. It can only be granted by the responsible clinician. A patient may not leave the hospital grounds without Section 17 leave, even for a short period of time. The leave can be time restricted and can be subject to conditions such as being accompanied by a nurse. If the time limits or restrictions are not kept the patient can be brought back to hospital, by the police if necessary. It is up to the clinical team to make decisions about leave within the hospital grounds.


A person detained under this section can be given medication against their wishes for the first 3 months from when medication was first given. Thereafter, except in emergency, if the person still does not consent to medication, the opinion of a second doctor must be sought before given them the medication or treatment.

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