Home Treatment Guide Treatment and your rights

Treatment and your rights

It is important to know that, unless you are detained in hospital (often called ‘sectioned’), under a community treatment order, or under a court order, you do have a choice about your treatment. You can choose whether medication or therapy is right for you.

If you want to discuss your treatment with your mental health professional but don’t feel able to, or feel that you might not be listened to, you might find it helpful to speak to a mental health advocate. An advocate is someone who supports you to get your point of view across. Each area should have a service providing advocates. To find out about mental health advocates in your area, you can search on the Action for Advocacy website (http://www.actionforadvocacy.org.uk) or ask your local Mind association.

The principle of choice in your care and treatment is embedded in all NICE Guidelines about PD, most Government policy related to PD and the NHS Constitution:

"You have the right to accept or refuse treatment that is offered to you, and not to be given any physical examination or treatment unless you have given valid consent. (Except where you are detained in hospital or on a Supervised Community Treatment Order under a section of the Mental Health Act 1984)" - NHS Constitution, Page 6
"NHS services must reflect the needs and preferences of patients, their families and their carers. Patients, with their families and carers, where appropriate, will be involved in and consulted on all decisions about their care and treatment." - NHS Constitution, Page 3

NICE Guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is an independent organisation responsible for giving national guidance on treating health conditions. The organisation brings together experts, patients and carers to develop guidelines on how to treat health conditions and what type of treatments should be available on the NHS. (For a copy of the guidelines related to PD go to the Links section of this site)

The NHS Constitution (which sets out the rights and responsibilities of people using NHS services) provides a legal right to people to be able to access the treatment recommended by NICE.

"You have the right to drugs and treatments that have been recommended by NICE for use in the NHS, if your doctor says they are clinically appropriate for you." - NHS Constitution, Page 6

This is your legal right. If you feel that your treatment or that of someone you care for does not follow the NICE guidelines and you think it should, you can challenge this.  

The first step would be to make a complaint to your local NHS Trust or Primary Care Trust. The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) at your local NHS Trust or Primary Care Trust can help you with this. You can also get independent advice and representation from your local Independent Complaints Advocacy Service. They have a statutory role to support people using services and carers who wish to make a complaint about their NHS treatment or care.

If you have made a formal complaint locally and are still unhappy, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) can investigate further - www.cqc.org.uk


Information that you can understand, and which answers your questions, is vital to being able to make choices about your treatment. Whenever you are offered a treatment, you should be provided with information to help you make your decision. This information should be available to you in different formats so that it can be easily understood by everybody. If you find reading difficult, you could ask for the information to be presented in different ways such as in a DVD or podcast. As well as being given information, you should always be given an opportunity to talk to a mental health professional about the different options available, and the benefits and drawbacks of any options. If you are not automatically given information or time to talk to someone, you can ask for this - national guidelines and the NHS Constitution set out your right to information.

NHS Constitution And User/Carer Involvement

The NHS Constitution sets out your rights and responsibilities as a patient of the NHS. (For a copy of the NHS Constitution, go to the Resources section of this site).

One of the key principles is that:

"NHS services must reflect the needs and preferences of patients, their families and their carers. Patients, with their families and carers, where appropriate, will be involved in and consulted on all decisions about their care and treatment." - NHS Constitution, Page 3

There is a long history, in the UK and overseas, of people who have experience of mental health services campaigning for better treatment and support services. In the UK, this is widely known as the User or Survivor Movement. Each area has groups for people who use or have used mental health services to come together to campaign for improvements in the way that people are treated.

It is now accepted that people who have been through the mental health system have a valuable contribution to make in the design, delivery and evaluation of mental health services. There is a growing trend for the friends, family, partners and carers to get involved and have a voice in the development of mental health services, too. The views and opinions of service users and carers should now be integral to decisions about how mental health services are run in their area. This right to be heard is also included in the NHS Constitution:

"You have the right to be involved, directly or through representatives, in the planning of healthcare services, the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way those services are provided, and in decisions to be made affecting the operation of those services." - NHS Constitution Page 7

To find out about opportunities to get involved in your area contact your local NHS Trust Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) lead or the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) (http://www.nsun.org.uk).


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