Section 3

Section 3 allows for a person to be admitted to hospital for treatment if their mental disorder is of a nature and/or degree that requires treatment in hospital.

In addition, it must be necessary for their health, their safety or for the protection of other people that they receive treatment in hospital.

When is it used?

Section 3 is used where the person is already well known to psychiatric services or following an initial assessment under Section 2.

What can happen?

Under a Section 3 you can be detained for up to six months in the first instance.  This could be renewed for a further six months and then for periods of one year at a time.

Section 3 can only be renewed following an assessment by the doctor responsible for your care (Responsible Clinician or RC).

Each time the Section 3 is renewed, a review of your current care and treatment is carried out by the Mental Health Act Managers.

Your rights

When you are detained under Section 3 your rights will be explained to you by a member of nursing staff.  This includes your right of access to an Independent Mental Health Advocate.

Right to appeal

You will have the right of appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal once in every period of detention under Section 3.

If you do not appeal in the first six months and the Section 3 is renewed, your case will be automatically referred to the Mental Health Tribunal.

You are entitled to free legal representation at the Tribunal and you will have the right to choose your own solicitor.

You are also entitled to appeal to the Mental Health Act Managers at any time during your detention.

This is in addition to the automatic referrals which occur each time the section is renewed.

Right to refuse treatment

Whilst detained under Section 3 you do not have the right to refuse treatment apart from electro-convulsive treatment (ECT) which can only be given without your consent if specific criteria are met.


You can be discharged from Section 3 at any time by:

a)     Your Responsible Clinician – the doctor in charge of your care

b)    The Mental Health Tribunal

c)     The Mental Health Act Managers

d)    Your nearest relative


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Page last reviewed: 8 July, 2021