Limits of remote working: the ethical challenges in conducting Mental Health Act assessments during COVID-19

Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (9):603-607 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


COVID-19 has created additional challenges in mental health services, including the impact of social distancing measures on care and treatment. For situations where a detention under mental health legislation is required to keep an individual safe, psychiatrists may consider whether to conduct an assessment in person or using video technology. The Mental Health Act 2003 does not stipulate that an assessment has to be conducted in person. Yet, the Code of Practice envisions that detention assessments would be conducted face to face in all circumstances. During the pandemic, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, a statutory body with a duty to promote best practice of the Act, has been asked whether it may be acceptable and indeed preferable for some assessments to be conducted via video technology. Where an assessment is needed to determine if a patient needs to be detained, and where there is a need for social distancing or the need for ‘shielding’, remote assessments may in some circumstances be preferable. In this article, we outline the modification of the Mental Welfare Commission’s previous outright rejection of virtual assessments as the pandemic progressed and discuss the ethical and legal issues the possibility of remote assessments has exposed. We also discuss the limits and when a virtual assessment is not considered ethical. As the pandemic moves from a state of emergency into a ‘new normal’ in psychiatric services during second, or subsequent, waves, the use and place of remote assessments for detention needs to be considered.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,347

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

COVID-19 and mental health: government response and appropriate measures.Genevieve Bandares-Paulino & Randy A. Tudy - 2020 - Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 30 (7):378-382.
Critical psychiatry: the limits of madness.D. B. Double (ed.) - 2006 - New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Rural and remote communities, technology and mental health recovery.Oliver K. Burmeister & Edwina Marks - 2016 - Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 14 (2):170-181.
The Paradox of Consent for Capacity Assessments.Peter Koch - 2019 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 47 (4):751-757.


Added to PP

32 (#503,204)

6 months
17 (#152,720)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Mayura Deshpande
University of Warwick

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references