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Prison Transfers

Mental Health


If you are set to be transferred from prison to hospital under section 47 or section 47 and 49 of the Mental Act 1983, you still have rights – even though you’re a serving convicted prisoner. You can turn to Cartwright King for advice on your rights or appealing a prison transfer.

For advice on what this means for your future, get in touch with our Mental Health Law team now.

How Cartwright King Can Help You

Section 47 of the Mental Health Act allows for your transfer from prison to hospital if two doctors recommend treatment in hospital is needed. You may have no idea why you’re being transferred and what your rights are, which is where our Mental Health Team can step in to support you. 

If you are being transferred from prison, you have rights once you are in hospital, which include:

  • Access to information about why you are being held in hospital
  • Access to information about consent to treatment
  • Appealing to a Mental Health Tribunal to challenge your section 
  • Seeking help and support from an advocate
  • Meeting with hospital managers

If you are being denied any of these rights, Cartwright King’s specialist Mental Health Lawyers will work with you to ensure that your rights are upheld.

Benefit from a Free, Initial Telephone Conversation

If you or a loved one is being held in hospital under section 47 or 49 of the Mental Health Act, 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.

Two doctors – one of whom must be section 12 approved – with the authorisation of the UK Home Secretary, can decide to transfer you from prison to hospital if they believe that you need treatment for a serious mental disorder.

A decision to detain is often taken because it is deemed to be in the best interests of health and safety – both of the individual affected, fellow prison inmates and prison staff  – to administer any treatment in hospital.

Under section 47 of the Mental Health Act, an individual can be detained in hospital for up to six months – unless a doctor or mental health professional deems it necessary for a person to remain in hospital for further treatment, in which case a person can be detained for a further six months.

After the second six-month period lapses, a detainment order can be renewed at 12-month intervals.

Under section 49 of the Mental Health Act 1983, an individual with a determinate sentence can be held in hospital up until their release date from prison. Following release, a person can only be detained under section 41(5) if  they need to remain in hospital. 

A section 45 can last up to six months and can be renewed for an additional six months. After the second six months lapses, the section can be renewed annually.

For individuals with indeterminate sentences, a section 49 does not expire until discharge from hospital.

The following have the authority to discharge a person from hospital:

  • A Doctor
  • Hospital Managers 
  • A Tribunal

For individuals held under a section 47, a doctor can discharge an individual at any time. For those detained under a section 49, a doctor can recommend to the UK Home Secretary that a person be discharged.

Hospital managers can discharge you following a review of your case. They will review reports prepared by doctors, social workers, nurses and anyone else involved in your care while in hospital. They will also speak to an individual directly to determine what their wishes are.

Additionally, hospital managers can adjourn for further information or make informal recommendations about your case.  

A Tribunal can discharge an individual. A Tribunal is an independent panel of three people – a lawyer, a psychiatrist and a layperson. Reports will be provided by a doctor and nurses concerning an individual’s case. 

After reviewing the reports, a Tribunal can:

  • Discharge a person (immediately or delayed for a period of time)
  • Adjourn for further information
  • Make formal recommendations on whether a person should be discharged, remain in hospital or return to prison

During a Tribunal, an individual does have the right to challenge evidence provided by medical professionals.

If a section 47 expires, the detainee can no longer be held in hospital and will be discharged. However, if a patient’s sentence has not come to end, and they are not yet eligible for parole, they will be returned to prison.

Under section 47, only a doctor can give authorisation for an individual to leave the hospital for a brief time. This is done under section 17 of the Mental Health Act. Leaving a hospital is time restricted and can be subject to conditions, such as being escorted by a nurse. 

If an individual fails to adhere to time limits or restrictions, they can be brought back to hospital, by the police if necessary. It is up to the individual’s clinical team to make decisions about leave within the hospital grounds.

Under section 49, an individual is prohibited from leaving hospital grounds without permission of the UK Home Secretary – even for a short time.

Any leave granted is 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 person 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.

Medication can be administered for up to three months, without an individual’s consent, if they are detained under a section 47 or 49. After the three months, except in an emergency, if a person refuses to consent to medication, the opinion of a second doctor is required before medication can be forcefully administered.