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Nearest Relative

Mental Health


A nearest relative is a legal role whereby you can request the discharge of an individual who is detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983. A nearest relative is considered to be the first living person on a list of designated relatives outlined in the MHA.

If you are the nearest relative of a person detained in hospital under the MHA, Cartwright King’s dedicated Mental Health Law Team can advise you on how to request a patient’s discharge or prevent a person’s admission into hospital.

For practical, pro-active advice, get in touch with our specialist Mental Health Lawyers now.

How Cartwright King Can Help You

Applying for a person to be discharged or preventing an admission into hospital requires a legal touch to ensure the best possible outcome. We can help you: 

  • Draft order discharge documents
  • Understand how to stop the admission of the person you are nearest relative for

Benefit from a Free, Initial Telephone Conversation

If a loved one is being held in hospital and you’re the nearest relative, benefit from a free initial discussion with our Mental Health Law Team.

There’s no substitute for speaking to a specialist solicitor for help understanding your rights and the best course of action to take for your case.

We’re here to ensure that you’re not alone. For immediate action, call us or email us for your free* initial discussion. 

The discussion is completely informal and confidential, and is an opportunity for us to:

  • Get to know you 
  • Understand your situation
  • Agree how you want to proceed

*Please be aware that this is a ‘get to know you’ call and no advice will be given.

Coronavirus and the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has made changes to the Mental Health Act complaint process in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The CQC is prioritising complaints from or about people who are currently detained on an inpatient ward in hospital and aims to ‘identify ways to help support people through Mental Health Act monitoring, resulting in a quicker resolution to a complaint or concern’.

 All other complaints will be reviewed, but may be paused due to coronavirus.You can email enquiries@cqc.org.uk or call 03000 616161 to make a complaint.

We're here for you.

Frequently asked questions.

A nearest relative cannot be chosen by a patient, instead, the Mental Health Act states that a nearest relative is the first living person on this list:

  • Husband, wife or civil partner 
  • Son or daughter
  • Father or mother 
  • Brother or sister
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Uncle or aunt 
  • Nephew or niece

For the purposes of this list, half blood relatives are considered as full blood relatives. The elder, or the eldest of two or more relatives listed, will be preferred to the other – regardless of whether they are male or female.

You need to submit a notice – in writing – of your intent to discharge a patient, giving hospital managers 72 hours’ notice. The letter must contain specific information and must be sent to the Mental Health Act Administrator.

Your letter can be passed to the Administrator by handing it to a member of staff on the ward in which a patient is detained. The patient’s doctor then has 72 hours to agree to the patient’s discharge or keep them in hospital.


Be advised that you can only request a patient’s discharge once in any six-month period.

A person can be admitted to hospital by an approved mental health professional – usually a social worker – under section 3 of the Mental Health Act. However, as part of an application to admit a person into hospital under section 3 of the MHA, the health professional must consult with the nearest relative.

All you have to do is object and a person cannot be admitted. However, an objection that’s considered to be unreasonable, could lead to displacement proceedings.

If for any reason you – as the nearest relative – were not contactable, a health professional must demonstrate that they tried to contact you or explain why attempting to contact you would cause delays, before they can make a section 3 application to admit a patient.

If it is deemed that you are not suitable for the legal role of the nearest relative, or that you’re not acting in the best interests of the patient, you could be removed and replaced by the next nearest relative.