ANNEX C RESTRICTED PATIENTS AND THE MEDIA
In the case of an incident involving a restricted patient, if the Hospital has a PR Company and/or Press Officer, names and telephone numbers must be provided to the Scotland Government Health Directorate (" SGHD"), who will then pass this information to the Communication Health Duty Officer
The SGHD official will contact the Scottish Government Communication Health during office hours, (Communication Health Duty Officer out of hours). In cases involving remand or where permission is required for the release of a photograph of the patient, SGHD officials will liaise with the Procurator Fiscal and/or the Crown Office.
While the Responsible Medical Officer has primary responsibility for the patient's care and treatment, the Scottish Ministers have specific responsibilities in relation to restricted patients and officials must, therefore, be advised of all serious incidents involving restricted patients. SGHD officials are responsible for responding to any media interest in incidents relating to restricted patients and must be able to brief Ministers, if necessary. It is also essential that officials are informed about any serious incident involving a restricted patient to ensure that the Scottish Ministers have a full and up to date record of each restricted patient
Communication Health of the Scottish Government will co-ordinate all media liaison about incidents involving restricted patients. However, arrangements can be made for a NHS Board's Public Relations staff to be authorised to carry out this function in liaison with the Scottish Government In high profile cases, a press protocol will be drawn up with contact details for all the lead agencies including social work and the police.
The Police Role
Hospital authorities should note that, in addition to the statement put out by Communication Health, it is always open to the police to issue to the media any supplementary material that may assist in the recapture of a patient who has absconded or escaped. Each case is considered on its own merits. The hospital authorities should co-operate in the supply of any material requested by police and advise the SGHD of the information provided: they in turn will advise the Communication Health.
In cases where a press release has been issued by the police, it will be the responsibility of the police to inform the media in all instances where an escapee or absconder is recaptured. Communication Health will be responsible for issuing a short statement in those cases when a press release has been issued on behalf of the Scottish Ministers and the patient has been returned to hospital.
The Communication Health Role
The Communication Health will inform the SGHD, the local hospital authorities, the Crown Office and the appropriate police headquarters of the issue of the statement. At this point, the matter becomes the responsibility of the investigating police force to whom the Communication Health will refer all enquiries relating to the abscond or escape.
The Role of Hospital Information Officers
NHS Board PR Officers, or private companies handling media enquiries for hospital authorities, should not deal directly with the media in any incident involving a restricted patient: all enquiries should be referred to the SGHD. The SGHD can, however, authorise arrangements for hospital staff to fulfil the media liaison role assigned to the Communication Health in this guidance. The SGHD will provide written approval and guidance for such an arrangement, where necessary