Hospital Orders

Hospital orders
Legally reviewed by: Tim Lumb

Section 37 hospital order and section 37/41 hospital orders with restrictions explained

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence that carries a prison sentence (except murder or certain other offences where a sentence is fixed by law), you could be held in a hospital under section 37 of the Mental Act for up to six months or more, rather than being sent to prison.

In cases where a hospital order is imposed by the Crown Court, and the Judge decides it is necessary to protect the public from serious harm, then a restriction order can be made. This requires authorisation from the Secretary of State for Justice for you to move hospitals, have access to community leave or be discharged.

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

Benefit from a free, initial telephone conversation

If you or a loved one are being held in hospital under a section 37 hospital order or a section 37/41 hospital order with restrictions, 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.

What is the effect of a section 37 hospital order and a section 37/41 hospital order with restrictions?

A section 37 orders your detention in a hospital if you have committed a criminal offence (other than murder or certain other offences), and the Magistrates Court or Crown Court rules that imprisonment is not a suitable option because of a potential mental health disorder.

A section 41 restriction means that you cannot be transferred to a different hospital, access the community or be discharged without the agreement of the Secretary of State for Justice.

How long does a section 37 hospital order or a section 37/41 hospital order with restrictions last?

A section 37 hospital order without a restriction can initially last for up to six months. After the first six months have elapsed, it can be renewed for a further six months. Following the second six-month period, a section 37 hospital order can be renewed at yearly intervals.

If you have a section 37 hospital order with a restriction, then this does not require renewal.

How can a section 37 hospital order or section 37/41 hospital order with restrictions be ended?

A section 37 hospital order, without a restriction, will only end if:

  • Your responsible clinician discharges you
  • Hospital managers 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 you directly to determine what your wishes are
  • A Tribunal discharges you – either immediately or on a set date. A Tribunal 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. You can only apply to a Tribunal if you have already been detained for six months and then after each annual renewal
  • Your hospital order is not renewed after six months and it expires – after which you are free to leave the hospital

A section 37/41 hospital order with restrictions, will only end if:

  • Your responsible clinician asks the Secretary of State for Justice to discharge you and they agree
  • A Mental Health Tribunal discharges you either conditionally or absolutely – with the authorisation of the Secretary of State for Justice. Under a section 37/41 hospital order, this is the most common route to discharge

While you may be discharged, conditions may apply. This is known as ‘conditionally discharged’. Only when you have been ‘absolutely discharged’ will you be free from the power of recall to hospital.

Can I leave the hospital?

Under a section 37 hospital order, yes you could be granted permission to leave the hospital under section 17 leave – but only with the permission of your responsible clinician. 

This will allow you to leave a hospital, and its grounds, for a set period of time. Section 17 leave can only be granted by your responsible clinician.

You are prohibited from leaving hospital grounds without section 17 – even for a short time. Leave being granted may come with certain conditions, such as accompaniment by a nurse. If you do not adhere to the time restrictions, you can be escorted back to the hospital, by the police if necessary.

Under a section 37/41 hospital order with restrictions, you are prohibited from leaving a hospital, and its grounds, without the consent of the Secretary of State for Justice – even for a short time.

Any leave that is granted will be time restricted and subject to certain conditions such as accompaniment by a nurse. If you do not adhere to the restrictions, you can be escorted back to the hospital, by the police if necessary.

Do I have to take medication under a section 37 hospital order or a section 37/41 hospital order with restrictions?

Yes, under the Mental Health Act, if you don’t agree to take any prescribed medication it can be administered against your  wishes for the first three months from when medication was given. 

Thereafter, if you still refuse to consent to medication being administered, the opinion of a second doctor must be sought before medication or treatment can be given to you – except in certain situations.

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