Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is seeking people to join a
team of independent volunteers to ensure that the rights of detained patients
The volunteers will be part of the Trust’s Mental Health Act Hospital
Managers’ Committee, responsible for ensuring that patients are sectioned only
as the Mental Health Act allows and can hear appeals against detention.
Open days are taking place across Norfolk and Suffolk this month, offering an
insight into the role. There will be current post holders to talk to, along with
service users and staff from NSFT.
The role would be suitable for those with a keen interest in mental health
and the legal implications of detention under the Mental Health Act. An ability
to travel to hearings at Trust sites in Norfolk and Suffolk is also
Rob Bennett, is Vice Chair of the Hospital Managers’ Committee and took up
his position in the team two years ago. He said: “I have a strong interest in
mental health and believe it doesn’t get treated with the importance it
“What I like about the role is that you work as part of a team. Although we
are independent of the Trust, the organisation ensures we are fully trained to
be able to reach the right decision for the patient and the wider
Mr Bennett, who has a background in finance, said the role was challenging
but also extremely rewarding.
“You must be able assimilate medical reports and be able to listen carefully
and ask questions in a constructive way.
“You also need to be able to put the patient at ease - we try and make the
hearings as relaxed as possible without losing some of the necessary
“It is the mechanism for deciding what is the best course of action for
patients, taking into consideration the opinions of the medical staff who care
A committee hearing panel has the power to discharge any detained patients
(except those under certain sections of the Act), to discharge any Community
Treatment Orders, and can also order a review at any time of whether or not a
patient should be discharged.
Volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds – the present team of
Hospital Managers include a music teacher, a fruit farmer and a retired
physiotherapist – and applications are welcome from everyone, including ethnic
minority groups which are currently under-represented.
The role involves sitting on 10 to 12 panels a year, and undergoing training
and development days. A fee is paid for attendance at hearings and travelling
expenses can be claimed.
Open days will be held at the following locations:
5 October 10.30am-1.30pm: Upstairs meeting room, Wedgwood House, West
Suffolk, Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 2QZ
5 October 2.30-5.30pm: Park Hotel, Diss, IP22 4LE
14 October 2.30-5.30pm: Meeting Room 2, Fermoy Unit, Queen Elizabeth
Hospital, King’s Lynn, PE30 4ET
18 October 2.30-5.30pm: Poppies, Carlton Court, Lowestoft, NR33 8AG
18 October 7-9pm: MHT Room, Woodlands, Ipswich Hospital, IP4
5PD 26 October 10.30am-1.30pm Horsham Room, Hellesdon Hospital,
Norwich, NR6 5BE
For details on the open days, or for more general information, contact Susan
O’Hagan, Legal Services Assistant at: susan.o’firstname.lastname@example.org or Helen
Dewson, Mental Health Act Legal Practice Advisor at: email@example.com