Let experience count in mental health tribunal switch, says Faculty

18 May


PLANS to allow experienced mental health tribunal members to remain in post beyond pensionable age have been praised by the Faculty.

As part of a new tribunals system, the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland (MHTS) is to transfer to the Scottish Tribunals and become the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Mental Health Chamber.

The Scottish Government is consulting on draft regulations relating to the change, and the Faculty said in a response that the transition of cases would need to be handled “with care and sensitivity.”

It added: “The Faculty considers that it is essential that the flexible procedure currently in place for the MHTS is replicated in the new procedural rules for the Mental Health Chamber.

“The Faculty notes with approbation that it is intended to replicate the effect of the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993, section 26 of which permits the reappointment of Tribunal members aged 70 for one year at a time until the age of 75, if their reappointment is in the public interest.

“The idiosyncratic nature of MHTS hearings requires Tribunal members to exercise their functions with an unusual degree of skill and sensitivity. In many cases, this skill has been honed over a significant period of time. In addition, some members are specially trained to handle more challenging cases, notably those involving children and adolescents, patients with learning disabilities and those suffering from age-related dementia.

“At a time when MHTS hearings are likely to be on the increase, the Faculty considers that it is appropriate to preserve the expertise and flexibility of this valuable resource.”