A District Court judge directed that a discharge plan for a young girl, detained in an inpatient unit under the Mental Health Act, should be forwarded to her mother and guardian ad litem, prior to her being discharged from the unit. The order was due to expire at midnight, but the court heard that the mother was concerned that if the child was discharged she had not been trained to administer feeding to her through a tube.
As the child was still under the jurisdiction of the court until midnight, when the section 25 order was due to expire, the judge made a section 47 direction for a discharge plan to be formally provided to the mother and guardian ad litem (GAL) that same day.
The CFA said that they did not intend for the young girl to be discharged on that same day and that all of the appropriate supports, therapeutic supports and training would be provided. The CFA said that they did not anticipate the discharge of the young girl without the appropriate training being provided to the mother. The judge asked the CFA if that meant that the child would be voluntarily detained as the child had no capacity to consent to the detainment and the mother did not have the sufficient training for her to be discharged.
The GAL told the court that the child believed that she was ready to be discharged. The doctor had reassured the GAL that they needed all of the stakeholders on board for a proposed transition and not all of the pieces were in place yet. The GAL told the court that since the previous month the young girl had not required to be detained for feeding. The judge was informed that the section 25 order expired that day and on that basis the judge said that as the order was still in being and so she had the jurisdiction to make section 47 orders.
The court was told that the CFA understood the concerns of the mother and that perhaps under section 25 the reliefs would be more nuanced. The judge asked if the mother agreed to the child staying in the inpatient unit and if the mother could refuse to take a discharge if she was the legal guardian of the child.
The court was told that the parties were not too far apart in respect of the proposed treatment plan of the child and that the mother had not indicated that she was going to oppose the discharge of the young girl. The barrister for the mother said that she was largely in agreement to the discharge of the child into her care but that it was not yet actionable as she did not yet have the requisite training.
The GAL said that the young girl was a vulnerable child who was in the inpatient unit previously. The GAL questioned why the jurisdiction of the court had been invoked and discharged unilaterally and questioned the function of the section 25 application. The GAL was concerned that a discharge plan had not been formulated or executed.
The judge decided that as the child was still subject to the jurisdiction of the court until midnight that day, she made a section 47 direction that the health board formally forward to the mother and to the GAL the discharge plan and if anyone believed that something was wrong they could all pursue their own advices as to what should be done. The judge said that the health board was formally responsible for the care of the child at that time and the clinician was the agent of the health board. The judge directed that the plan would have to be prepared on that same day.
The solicitor expressed a concern to the court that the CFA did not have instructions as the whether it was possible to prepare a discharge plan that same day. The judge said that she was going to make the direction as the discharge plan was very simple and it could be to plan to discharge the child when the mother was trained and agreed to the discharge of the child into her care.
The judge made the direction under section 47 but said that the jurisdiction of the court terminated after midnight as the CFA was not seeking a renewal of the section 25 order. The judge said that she was making no further order and that the validity of her order expired at midnight.