To ask Her Majesty's Government whether consultant psychiatrists who have assessed or treated patients with mental illnesses remain responsible for those patients when they are moved to other hospitals or discharged; and if so, for how long.
In general, when patients are moved to other hospitals the referring consultant psychiatrist transfers responsibility to the receiving consultant. When a patient is discharged from hospital, they are either followed up by a community mental health service or by their general practitioner (GP) in primary care. When a patient is transferred to a community mental health service, responsibility generally transfers to the consultant in that service.
There are some exceptions, including:
- Patients detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 may be given ‘leave of absence’ to another hospital as part of their discharge plan. The transferring consultant, who has ‘Responsible Clinician’ status under the MHA, remains responsible for that patient during the authorised leave period and may recall the patient if necessary; and
- When a patient is followed up under a shared care arrangement between their GP and the secondary care consultant. This is normally managed under a locally agreed protocol.
There are no time limits ascribed to these responsibilities.