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Mental health: Guardianship cases fall by a fifth

September 27, 2013: The use of Guardianship orders under the Mental Health Act fell by 20 per cent in England in 2012/13, according to figures released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

The number of new Guardianship cases over the year totalled 270. This is the third consecutive year that the number of new Guardianship cases has fallen, following a 21 per cent fall in 2011/12 and a three per cent fall in 2010/11. The number of continuing cases was 620 at the end of March 2013, 34 per cent lower than the 2004/5 total of 940 (the highest figure within the 10 year time series included in today's report).2

Guardianship allows a local social services authority or named individual to take certain decisions on behalf of a person with a mental disorder being cared for in the community, to protect their welfare or the welfare of others. Decisions might include where the person lives, or appointments they need to attend3.

As well as a decline in the use of Guardianship orders, there has also been increased use of newer pieces of legislation to promote the welfare of people who have a mental disorder which presents a risk to themselves or others such as Community Treatment Orders and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards4.

also shows that in 2012/13:

Guardianship under the Mental Health Act 1983, England, 2013 also shows that in 2012/13:

  • Local authorities in the North West had the highest number of new cases for the second year running, with a total of 76. This was equivalent to 11 new cases per million of their population, the highest rate of nine regions in England. North West Guardianship cases accounted for over a quarter (28 per cent) of all new cases across England.
  • The East Midlands, East of England and London had the lowest rates of new Guardianship cases. They each reported fewer than two new cases per million population and representing 3 per cent, 4 per cent and 5 per cent respectively of the total new cases across England for 2012/13.
  • All regions, with the exception of the North West and North East, reported a lower number of continuing cases at the end of the year than in 2011/12.
  • For continuing cases, the North West had the highest number at 183 and the highest rate at 26 per million of its population. London had the lowest number of continuing cases at 21 and the lowest rate at three per million.
  • Looking at cases that closed during the year, Guardianship cases in the East of England had the longest average length at 38.5 weeks, 15 weeks longer than the England average of 23.5 weeks.


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 130 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. A continuing case is one that was open in the previous reporting year and has continued into the current reporting year, or has begun in the current financial year and is still open at the end of it. A new case is one that has been opened during the current reporting year. A closed case is one that ends during the reporting year. Cases that were opened during the current reporting year and are still open at the end of it will therefore appear in both the 'new cases' and the 'continuing cases' counts. Some inconsistencies in the time series figures in this release arise because of revisions to previous years and other issues relating to the reliability of historical data. These are described in the Background Quality Report that accompanies the report.

3. The purpose of Guardianship is to enable patients to receive care in the community where it cannot be provided without the use of compulsory powers. It provides a framework, as part of the overall care and treatment plan, for working with a patient to achieve as independent a life as possible. Guardianship applies to patients who are at least 16 years old and who have a mental disorder of a nature or degree which warrants reception into guardianship, and where it is also necessary in the interests of the welfare of the patient or for the protection of others.

4. Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) were introduced in April 2009 (under the Mental Capacity Act). The latest published HSCIC report ( ) shows 11,900 DoLS applications were made in 2012/13 which represents a 4 per cent increase over the previous year. This equates to a 66 per cent increase on the figures reported for 2009/10 (7,200). Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) were introduced in November 2008. CTO figures for 2012/13 will be released in October 2013, but for 2011/12, the latest published HSCIC report ( shows the number of CTOs increased 11 per cent to 4,800 on top of the 29 per cent increase for 2010/11.

5. Numbers over 100 have been rounded to the nearest 10 and over 1,000 to the nearest 100. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

6. For media enquiries or interview requests please contact the press office on 0845 257 6990 or

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