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The Trust has a duty of care for the safety of its patients. At the same time, patients have a legal right to leave the hospital unless they are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

This document advises staff of action to be taken, and by whom, in the event of a patient being identified as missing.

The Trust needs to be vigilant in its care of all patients particularly those deemed as vulnerable which include those that are:

  • Self- harming
  • confused elderly
  • confused due to physical condition or medical treatment
  • depressed / state of mind
  • under the age of 16



This policy and procedures will enable staff to:

  • identify when a patient should be regarded as a missing patient
  • take the appropriate action in an effective and timely manner
  • reduce the risk of any harmful outcomes to the patient
  • ensure that relatives of any missing patient are informed as soon as possible
  • ensure that relatives are notified of all developments
  • establish the principles for the recognition and search for patients missing from the wards/hospital
  • involve external agencies as appropriate


Definition of a "Missing Patient"

All patients noted to be absent from the ward or department, without prior arrangement must be treated as missing and the Matron and/or Head of Nursing and Site Co-ordinator are to be informed immediately.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Sue Hardy, Matron for Medicine
Ratified by: n/a
Date Ratified: June 2012
Date Issued: June 2012
Review Date: June 2014
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Sue Hardy, Matron for Medicine