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Where can I find the criteria for approval under section 12 of the Mental Health Act? I have always had an interest in psychiatry but have never done a psychiatric job.

The Department of Health guidance on approval of doctors under section 12 of the mental health act 1983 sets out the criteria that local assessment panels must use to determine section 12 approval.

In general GPs should have three years' full-time or equivalent experience as a principal and at least six months' full-time or equivalent supervised experience of psychiatric work involving use of the Mental Health Act. New applicants for approval would normally be expected to have MRCGP.

The guidelines set out a 'flexible experience' option to accommodate those with unusual but acceptable training. The practitioners should normally provide evidence of 'special experience' of qualifications such as a Diploma in Psychological Medicine or a Diploma in Medical Jurisprudence. This might enable your approval, but it would be a matter for the panel to determine.

Dr Christine Dewbury, Wessex LMCs

Neither Pulse nor Wessex LMCs can accept any legal liability in respect of the answers given. Readers should seek independent advice before acting on the information concerned.

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