Legally reviewed by: Tim Lumb Updated:

Community Treatment Order

Community treatment orders
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Section 17A Community Treatment Orders Explained

If you or a loved one are placed under a section 17A Mental Health Act Community Treatment Order (CTO) for a mental health problem, certain conditions of the order will affect day-to-day life. Cartwright King’s Mental Health team can explain a CTO and your rights while under such an order.

For compassionate advice about section 17A Community Treatment Orders, get in touch with our dedicated Mental Health team today.

Community Treatment Orders Frequently Asked Questions

Section 17A Mental Health Act Community Treatment Orders subject you to making yourself available for medical examination at any point. While you’re not obligated to adhere to the conditions of a CTO, failing to do so could see you detained in hospital. We get a lot of questions about CTOs. Here are a few we are regularly asked:

What is a section 17A Community Treatment Order?

A section 17A Community Treatment Order (CTO) is an order issued by a doctor under the Mental Health Act, which enables you to receive treatment in the community. Your treatment is carried out in accordance with a community treatment plan.

A CTO provides a framework for the provision of medical treatment that a doctor deems necessary to allow you to live in the community, rather than being detained in hospital.

How does a CTO restrict me?

While you are allowed to live in the community under a CTO, this is on the understanding that you are subject to certain conditions, including but not not limited to:

  • Making yourself available for medical examinations when needed for consideration of the extension of your CTO
  • Allowing for a Second Opinion doctor to confirm that you should be on medication 
  • Receiving medical treatment (if necessary)
  • Living at a certain address (if necessary)

Do I have to stick to the conditions of a CTO?

No, but if you don’t you could be detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. However, you can only be detained in hospital if your doctor deems that you require medical treatment in hospital for your mental disorder and there would be a risk of harm to your own health or safety or to other persons if you were not recalled to hospital.

If you’re brought into hospital, your doctor has 72 hours to decide whether to end your CTO and detain you in hospital for treatment or discharge you back into the community under your existing CTO.

During the 72-hour period, you can be treated without your consent.

How long does a CTO last?

A CTO initially lasts for six months. However, should health professionals decide that you should be under a CTO for longer than the initial six months, it can be renewed for an additional six months. Thereafter, it can be renewed at one-year intervals.

How do I come off my CTO?

Your doctor can discharge you at any time if you no longer need your CTO. 

Your nearest relative can request your discharge. Once your nearest relative makes such a request, your doctor has 72 hours in which to agree or disagree. Your nearest relative can only ask for your discharge once during a six-month period.

Hospital Managers may conduct a review of your case by reviewing reports prepared by your doctor and community nurse. Hospital Managers may also speak to you directly to find out what your wishes are. They have the power, if they believe it is the right thing to do, to discharge your CTO straight away. 

A Tribunal can discharge you, and involves a more in-depth review of your case, which is carried out by a three-person, independent panel that includes a lawyer, a psychiatrist and a public representative. Free, non-means tested legal representation is usually available at the Tribunal.

If the six months lapses and the CTO is not renewed, the CTO expires and you will be discharged.

Are aftercare services still available once my CTO ends?

Yes. After you are discharged you are entitled to free aftercare services for as long as you need them.  If you do not receive them, we can help you to obtain the services you need.

Benefit from a free, initial telephone conversation

If you or a loved one are under a section 17A Community Treatment Order, 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. We can explain the criteria for free legal help (Legal Aid).

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