Patients rely on charities for new clothes as trusts ‘shirk obligations’

People with mental health problems who spend a long time in
hospital receiving treatment are being denied suitable clothing by
mental health trusts.

Many patients have to rely on the hospital to provide their clothes
as they are unable to afford them. Under current legislation,
people who stay in hospital for more than a year automatically have
their benefits cut to £15.50 a week, which is to cover all
necessities from haircuts to transport for home visits.

Mental health charity Mind has received a letter from a social
worker asking for a clothing grant of around £150 so that his
client can buy some new clothes.

The client, who is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, has been
detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 since 1972, but the aim
is to move him on to a high support hostel in his home area.
However, the man only has a few clothes that are old and need

The social worker, who did not want to be named, said that funds
for clothing were not made available by his trust. To combat this,
he has been forced to come up with “creative solutions” in order to
meet clients’ clothing needs, using the Social Fund and voluntary

Richard Brook, chief executive of Mind, said that the refusal of
mental health trusts to honour their obligation under the National
Service Framework for Mental Health to provide essential clothing
was widespread, and called on the government to remind them they
cannot “shirk their responsibilities”.

“In a supposedly civilised society, we shouldn’t be seeing people
with mental health problems kept so far below the poverty line and
deprived of their self-esteem,” he said.

Last month, health minister Rosie Winterton said that the NSF made
it clear that trusts should ensure arrangements were in place to
bring about “good standards of privacy and dignity for hospital

In a written answer to the House of Commons, she added that the
care programme approach required patients’ health and social care
needs to be fully addressed in their care plans, which should be
regularly reviewed, particularly upon discharge from hospital.

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