Mental Health Act 1959

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1959 c. 72


Mental Health Act, 1959

(7 & 8 Eliz. 2) CHAPTER 72

An Act to repeal the Lunacy and Mental Treatment Acts, 1890 to 1930, and the Mental Deficiency Acts, 1913 to 1938, and to make fresh provision with respect to the treatment and care of mentally disordered persons and with respect to their property and affairs; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Preliminary

Part I

Preliminary

S-1 Repeal of Lunacy and Mental Treatment Acts and Mental Deficiency Acts.

1 Repeal of Lunacy and Mental Treatment Acts and Mental Deficiency Acts.

1. Subject to the transitional provisions contained in this Act, the Lunacy and Mental Treatment Acts, 1890 to 1930, and the Mental Deficiency Acts, 1913 to 1938, shall cease to have effect, and the following provisions of this Act shall have effect in lieu of those enactments with respect to the reception, care and treatment of mentally disordered patients, the management of their property, and other matters related thereto.

S-2 Dissolution of Board of Control.

2 Dissolution of Board of Control.

(1) The following provisions of this section shall have effect on the repeal by this Act of the enactments constituting the Board of Control.

(2) The persons who, immediately before the dissolution of the Board by virtue of the said repeal, were members of the Board or then held office under the Board as commissioners or inspectors shall become officers of the Ministry of Health.

(3) The dissolution of the Board shall not affect any rights, liabilities or obligations of the Board; but all such rights, liabilities and obligations, and any property held by the Board immediately before the dissolution, shall be transferred to and vest in the Minister, and any proceedings then pending to which the Board was a party may be continued by or against the Minister.

S-3 Mental Health Review Tribunals.

3 Mental Health Review Tribunals.

(1) For every area for which a Regional Hospital Board is constituted under section eleven of the National Health Service Act, 1946, there shall be constituted a Tribunal, to be called a Mental Health Review Tribunal, for the purpose of dealing with applications and references by and in respect of patients under the following provisions of this Act.

(2) The provisions of the First Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the constitution of Mental Health Review Tribunals.

(3) Subject to the provisions of the said First Schedule, and to rules made by the Lord Chancellor under this Act, the jurisdiction of a Mental Health Review Tribunal may be exercised by any three or more of its members, and references in this Act to a Mental Health Review Tribunal shall be construed accordingly.

(4) The Minister may pay to the members of Mental Health Review Tribunals such remuneration and allowances as he may with the consent of the Treasury determine, and defray the expenses of such Tribunals to such amount as he may with the like consent determine, and may provide for each such Tribunal such officers and servants, and such accommodation, as the Tribunal may require.

(5) Part II of the First Schedule to the House of Commons Disqualification Act, 1957 (which specifies certain commissions, tribunals and other bodies all members of which are disqualified under that Act) shall have effect, in its application to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, as if after the entry relating to Medical Practices Committees there were inserted the following entry:—

‘A Mental Health Review Tribunal constituted under the Mental Health Act, 1959.’

S-4 Definition and classification of mental disorder.

4 Definition and classification of mental disorder.

(1) In this Act ‘mental disorder’ means mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychopathic disorder, and any other disorder or disability of mind; and ‘mentally disordered’ shall be construed accordingly.

(2) In this Act ‘severe subnormality’ means a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes subnormality of intelligence and is of such a nature or degree that the patient is incapable of living an independent life or of guarding himself against serious exploitation, or will be so incapable when of an age to do so.

(3) In this Act ‘subnormality’ means a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind (not amounting to severe subnormality) which includes subnormality of intelligence and is of a nature or degree which requires or is susceptible to medical treatment or other special care or training of the patient.

(4) In this Act ‘psychopathic disorder’ means a persistent disorder or disability of mind (whether or not including subnormality of intelligence) which results in abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the patient, and requires or is susceptible to medical treatment.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as implying that a person may be dealt with under this Act as suffering from mental disorder, or from any form of mental disorder described in this section, by reason only of promiscuity or other immoral conduct.

S-5 Informal admission of patients.

5 Informal admission of patients.

(1) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing a patient who requires treatment for mental disorder from being admitted to any hospital or mental nursing home in pursuance of arrangements made in that behalf and without any application, order or direction rendering him liable to be detained under this Act, or from remaining in any hospital or mental nursing home in pursuance of such arrangements after he has ceased to be so liable to be detained.

(2) In the case of an infant who has attained the age of sixteen years and is capable of expressing his own wishes, any such arrangements as are mentioned in the foregoing subsection may be made, carried out and determined notwithstanding any right of custody or control vested by law in his parent or guardian.

II Local Authority Services

Part II

Local Authority Services

General Provisions

General Provisions

S-6 Functions of local health authorities.

6 Functions of local health authorities.

(1) In relation to persons who are or have been suffering from mental disorder, section twenty-eight of the National Health Service Act, 1946 (which relates to functions of local health authorities with respect to the prevention of illness and the care and after-care of patients) shall have effect subject to the following provisions of this section.

(2) The purposes for which arrangements are authorised or may be required to be made by a local health authority under subsection (1) of the said section twenty-eight for the care or after-care of such persons as aforesaid shall include the following, that is to say:—

(a ) the provision, equipment and maintenance of residential accommodation, and the care of persons for the time being resident in accommodation so provided;

(b ) the provision of centres or other facilities for training or occupation, and the equipment and maintenance of such centres;

(c ) the appointment of officers to act as mental welfare officers under the following provisions of this Act;

(d ) the exercise by the local health authority of their functions under the following provisions of this Act in respect of persons placed under guardianship thereunder (whether so placed under the guardianship of the local health authority or of other persons); and

(e ) the provision of any ancillary or supplementary services for or for the benefit of any such persons as are referred to in subsection (1) of this section;

and subsections (2) and (3) of the said section twenty-eight shall have effect accordingly.

(3) Notwithstanding anything in subsection (1) of the said section twenty-eight, the reference in paragraph (a ) of subsection (2) of this section to the care of persons for the time being resident in accommodation provided by a local health authority includes, in the case of persons so resident who are under the age of sixteen years, the payment to those persons of such amounts as the local health authority think fit in respect of their occasional personal expenses where it appears to that authority that no such payment would otherwise be made.

S-7 Conduct of premises of local health authorities.

7 Conduct of premises of local health authorities.

(1) The Minister may make regulations as to the conduct of any premises in which residential accommodation or facilities for training or occupation are provided by local health authorities under section twenty-eight of the National Health Service Act, 1946, for persons who are or have been suffering from mental disorder.

(2) Regulations made under this section may in particular confer upon officers of the Minister authorised thereunder such powers of inspection as may be prescribed by the regulations.

S-8 Functions of welfare authorities.

8 Functions of welfare authorities.

(1) For the purposes of subsection (8) of section twenty-one of the National Assistance Act, 1948 (which restricts the duties of local...

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