This study aimed to examine in-patient child and adolescent consultant psychiatrists' knowledge of and attitude to the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA), the Children Act 1989 and issues around consent. A questionnaire form was sent to all in-patient consultants in England and Wales.
The consultants who responded (n=51, 67%) reported a desire for more training in legal issues. Knowledge of the MHA was better than for the Children Act 1989; those who used the MHA at least once every 6 months scored more correct answers to questions about the MHA than did those who used it less frequently or never.
Although the study indicates specific gaps in knowledge, the main message is that training should consider the legal framework as a whole, with an emphasis on practical issues about its application in the in-patient setting.
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