Leave of absence
Under s17, the RC can allow a detained patient out of hospital temporarily on leave of absence. He can attach conditions on the leave, e.g. that it must be escorted rather than unescorted, or that it is limited to a certain area. The leave can be short-term (e.g. 1 hour) or longer-term (e.g. 2 weeks). The RC can have the patient recalled to hospital under if necessary (see s17(4), also s18).
The Justice Secretary's consent is required for leave to be granted to restricted patients. He can effectively impose conditions by stating upon what conditions the permission is granted. Either the RC or the Justice Secretary can recall the patient.
If a particular hospital unit was specified when the patient was admitted then MoJ permission is required for s17 leave beyond the confines of that unit. Otherwise, the RC can informally give leave within the hospital grounds without using s17 at all. See Power to specify hospital units.
From Ministry of Justice Mental Health Unit website:
- 06.11.2007 – Trial leave and transfer application - Changes to the procedure for applying for trial leave and full transfer to alternative hospitals
- 18.03.2008 – Leave guidance for RMOs - Shortened guidance for RMOs on making leave applications
From MoJ website:
- Trial leave transfer changes letter - 20 August 2007 (copy: MoJ link broken) - "This letter explains changes to the procedure for applying for trial leave and full transfers to alternative hospitals."
- Guidance for responsible medical officers - leave of absence for patients subject to restrictions - 30 July 2007 (copy: MoJ link broken) - "Under the Mental Health Act 1983, responsible medical officers (RMOs) need the Home Secretary’s consent before granting leave from hospital to detained restricted patients. The role of the Home Office in the management of restricted patients is to protect the public from serious harm."