The ‘nearest relative’ role under the Mental Health Act
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The ‘nearest relative’ role under the Mental Health Act

David Thompson Specialist nurse for adults, Risk, Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust

David Thompson highlights the importance of this statutory safeguard over time and explains how a sound knowledge of these legal rights can help support service users and carers

The nearest relative role is a statutory safeguard for people who may be subject to the formal powers of the Mental Health Act 1983 in England and Wales. It survived the amendment in 2007, despite a wide consensus that the role should be replaced by a ‘nominated person’.

This article reviews the nearest relative role and argues it is consistent with contemporary policy with regard to carers. It challenges practitioners to dispense with any lingering ambivalence about the role and to facilitate the nearest relatives’ legal rights to support people with mental health needs and their carers.

Mental Health Practice. 18, 8, 23-30. doi: 10.7748/mhp.18.8.23.e991


Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 04 April 2014

Accepted: 04 July 2014

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