Section 25 aftercare under supervision: The first eighteen months' experience
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Supervised discharge was introduced, against much professional opposition, in the Mental Health (Patients in the Community) Act 1995. All patients subject to supervised discharge (SD) in a large health district were identified by medical records departments, and the outcome of their SD on 1 October 1997, eighteen months after the legislation came into effect, was assessed. In that first eighteen months, half of the general, rehabilitation and forensic psychiatrists in the trust used SD for 22 patients. Of the 12 orders in effect for over six months, six were renewed at six months and three at one year. In spite of professional hostility and scepticism about the clinical practicalities of SD, the use of the new power has gradually increased with experience. Outcomes to date seem generally positive, but further definitive research is needed.