LEGAL EAGLE: Explaining when you could be forced to take medication
Can I be forced to take medication? Generally, you need to give your consent before receiving any kind of health treatment.
Can I be forced to take medication?
Generally, you need to give your consent before receiving any kind of health treatment. To give
consent you need :-
- to have capacity to decide;
- have enough information to make that decision;
- and give your consent freely.
The choice of medication should be discussed with you unless you are unable or unwilling to discuss
If you are detained under the Mental Health Act you can be treated against your will. If it is felt that
you do not have sufficient capacity to make an informed decision about your treatment at the time
then you can be forced to take medication. If you refuse treatment but the team treating you
believe you should have it then you can be treated against your will.
How long can I be forced to take medication for?
If after 3 months you are still detained and do not want the medication or are too ill to consent to it,
you will see an independent consultant psychiatrist sent by the Care Quality Commission.
You can then only be forced to take the medication if it has been agreed by the independent
psychiatrist (called a Second Opinion Appointed Doctor or SOAD).
Can I be forced to have Electroconvulsive Therapy?
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a treatment with special safeguards. The patient must be capable
of giving valid consent and the SOAD must certify in writing as to the patient’s consent and
understanding of nature, purpose, and likely effect of treatment.
If the patient lacks capacity then the SOAD must certify that it is appropriate for the patient to
receive treatment and consult with a nurse or another professional concerned with the patient’s
treatment. This person cannot be the Responsible Clinician or Approved Clinician.
A patient with capacity who refuses ECT cannot be forced to receive ECT.
Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist Mental Health Solicitors who can help with issues surrounding
Mental Health Law. To speak to a solicitor please contact us on 0191 565 3112 or email
[email protected] Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.