Section 37 of the Mental Health Act - Hospital orders
If you are convicted of a crime, the courts can send you to hospital instead of prison. They can do this if you have a mental disorder and need hospital treatment, under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983. This section looks at when and how the courts use Section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983. It explains what your rights are if you are in hospital and what could happen afterwards.
- The criminal courts can use section 37 of The Mental Health Act if they think you should be in hospital instead of prison. This is also called a ‘hospital order’.
- You must have a mental disorder and need treatment in hospital. And have been convicted of a crime that is punishable with imprisonment.
- It is a sentence and does not have a fixed end date.
- You can appeal to the courts if you do not agree with this sentence. You need to appeal in a certain time period. You can get legal advice from a solicitor.
- When you are in hospital you can also appeal to the hospital managers and the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT).
- The hospital can treat you without your permission for up to 3 months.
- Your Responsible Clinician (RC), hospital managers or tribunal can discharge you from this section.
- When you are discharged, you get free aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act.
This section covers:
- What professionals might I come across in hospital?
- When do the courts use this section?
- How do the courts use this section?
- How long will I be on this section?
- What are my rights?
- Can the doctor treat me if I don’t want it?
- How can I be discharged and what might happen?
- What sort of aftercare could I get?
- When will my hospital order become ‘spent’?
This information has been written in accordance with the Rethink Mental Illness Advice & Information Service Information Standard. Last reviewed in October 2018. Next review May 2021.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays