Newsflash: R (on the application of 1) Silviu Mitocariu, 2) Costica Lazarel) v Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust [2018] EWHC 126


Is there any legal obligation on NHS Trusts to make regular payments or give ‘pocket money’ to hospital in-patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 when they cannot meet any personal expenses themselves?

The Key Facts

Two hospital in-patients, who had no recourse to public funds, claimed that they were entitled to regular payments for personal expenses in order to maintain their dignity, pursuant to Section 122 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 s41).

The Court’s Decision

NHS Trusts do have the power to make financial payments to hospital in-patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 by virtue of sections 43 and 46(6) of the National Health Service Act 2006, provided that the payments are for the purposes of the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness and the promotion and protection of public health. This can include expenses to maintain a person’s dignity. However, this power is wholly discretionary and patients do not have an entitlement to receive payments. NHS Trusts should consider any requests on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the payment is for a therapeutic purpose. A fixed policy to always make regular payments, irrespective of the purpose, would fall outside a Trust’s powers. The decision may lead to more requests for payment, especially from those in-patients who have no other source of income.