Face to face hearings suspended in some Mental Health Hospitals and Trusts

Health, Education and Social Care Chamber (First-tier Tribunal)TribunalsNews

Updated message from 12 April 2024: Safety and security in hospitals and trusts

This an update on our work on safety and security.

Following the changes introduced last week we have seen an increased number of responses from
Responsible Authorities signing up to the minimum standards. We continue to work
with the rest of the Responsible Authorities who have not yet signed to understand why
they are unable to do so and what steps they can take moving forward to ensure the
safety of those attending tribunal hearings at their venues.

After much consideration we have decided that if the patient requests a face-to-face
hearing, we will list a face-to-face hearing supported by new directions which will be issued by the judiciary.

Following some national security concerns, His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service
(HMCTS) has been reviewing safety measures across the courts and tribunals estate and
where judicial hearings take place. This includes the hospital and trust premises where
HMCTS hold mental health hearings. To this end, HMCTS has written to some 820+ MH
hearing venues asking them to confirm that the rooms we use on their premises comply
with the minimum safety and security requirements and published guidance for tribunal

While the survey is ongoing, HMCTS has taken the difficult decision to suspend face to face hearings at
those venues that are not compliant with minimum safety standards or have not replied
to say they are, until HMCTS has a clearer picture of what the issue is for each hospital
and how quickly HMCTS can resolve it.

At venues where the safety of panel members has not been confirmed, cases will be listed
as ‘Video Hearing Only’ for the time being, (unless there is a particular medical or other
reason that the patient cannot have a VH hearing, in which case the representative
should apply and the matter will be referred to a DTJ to give listing directions.)

In those venues that are compliant, patients shall continue to be able to opt for face to
face or video hearings. This list will be added to by HMCTS regularly once safety and
security standards have been met.

The proposed listing regime will come into effect from Monday 8 April 2024.