What are my rights if I am sectioned under section 4?
Your rights will be different under section 4 compared to your rights under other sections.
Provided the approved mental health professional who has applied to have you admitted under this section has filled in the sectioning papers correctly, this section allows you to be:
- taken to hospital for emergency assessment
- kept in hospital for up to 72 hours
You can be put under this section with only one medical recommendation, normally from a doctor who knows you. Normally the approved mental health professional has to get two medical recommendations, but under section 4, they will only need one.
If you are put under a section 4, you will have the following rights:
- You must be admitted to hospital within 24 hours of the approved mental health professional's application or your medical examination, whichever is the earlier. Otherwise the application cannot go ahead and you cannot be taken to hospital after this time.
- You will be free to go if your doctor discharges you, or at the end of 72 hours, unless a second medical recommendation says that you should be kept under section for longer – this changes your section 4 into a section 2.
- Your nearest relative does not have the right to discharge you, because they have to give the hospital managers at least 72 hours’ notice before they can take you out of hospital.
- You do not have the right to apply to a mental health tribunal, but if your section 4 changes into a section 2, you will have the right to apply.
- You cannot be treated for your mental health condition without your consent. You can refuse medication and other treatment for your mental health. But you can be assessed and given treatment in an emergency to save your life, stop you from injuring yourself or others, or stop your health from getting seriously worse.
Can I make a complaint about how I’ve been treated in hospital?
Yes, your independent mental health advocate can help you to make a complaint. Ask them to support you in writing a letter or email to the Care Quality Commission (in England) or the Healthcare Inspectorate (in Wales).
You can complain about:
- the way hospital staff have treated you
- if procedures have not been followed properly
- conditions on the ward
- if other people on the ward have hurt you or behaved badly
- if your things have been stolen or damaged
- not getting enough fresh air or exercise
- not having free access to correspondence or visitors
- if you or another person have been injured, or a crime has been committed. You can also think about whether to tell the police.