Q: I am paraplegic following a motorbike accident. Five years ago, my wife was diagnosed with depression and has been prescribed various medications, all with adverse side effects. Last year she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Six weeks ago, the GP changed her medication – yet again without seeing her, because she was constantly falling asleep.
This latest medication has made her psychotic and on three occasions she has “run away”. This has been terrifying as I cannot run after her. She has hidden her purse, keys, phone, eventually found by a relative in a high cupboard I cannot access. She claims I keep her prisoner. I am at my wits end. I call the GP and they just change her meds. I cannot cope and I don’t know how to get her sectioned. What can I do?
A: You and your wife clearly both need help, and quickly. You should try contacting your GP again, or your local community mental health team, or the 24-hour NHS urgent mental health helpline. To get your wife admitted to hospital a formal application will first need to be made for her to be assessed under the Mental Health Act (MHA). The application must be made either by you, as your wife’s nearest relative, or by an Approved Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP), and supported by two medical recommendations.
AMHPs are usually social workers with specialist mental health expertise who have been appointed by the local social services authority to carry out MHA assessments. As they will be familiar with the procedure it is often easier to request that they organize the medical recommendations and handle the application for hospital admission.
Once admitted to hospital, if you have concerns about your wife’s rights, liberty, or medication, bear in mind that persons detained under the Mental Health Act are eligible for free legal advice and assistance. It may also be possible for a relative of someone detained to be eligible for financial assistance.
This question has been answered by Andy Howarth, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194