Explains your rights if you are having treatment in hospital as a voluntary patient.
Yes – you have the right to get treatment for your mental health problem. As with any type of in-patient stay, you can discuss your treatment plan with your responsible clinician. And you still have the right to get treatment for other physical health problems, just as you would have in the community.
No – as a voluntary patient you have the right to refuse treatment, including medication. You can only be forced to have medical treatment for your mental health problem if you are sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
See our legal pages on agreeing to treatment for more information about your rights regarding treatment.
It can sometimes be hard to get your views across to healthcare professionals, especially when you're not well. Advocates can help you make your voice heard. See our pages on advocacy to find out more about what advocates do, and how to find an advocate.
If you are in Wales, you also have the legal right to an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) if you are a 'qualifying informal (voluntary) patient'. See our legal page on IMHAS in Wales for more information.
But in England you don't have a legal right to an IMHA as a voluntary patient unless certain treatments are being considered for you, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or neurosurgery. See our legal page on IMHAS in England for more information.
Certain decisions, such as applying for someone who is sectioned to go onto a community treatment order (CTO), can only be taken by the responsible clinician.
All responsible clinicians must be approved clinicians. They do not have to be a doctor, but in practice many of them are.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
This information was published in June 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.