[2009] EWHC 1827 (QB)  

Claimants’ daughter (M) suffered depressive illness. She agreed to an informal admission to Defendant Trust’s hospital following several suicide attempts. On admission, she was assessed as being a moderate to high suicide risk and medication was prescribed. It was noted that should M attempt to leave the hospital she should be assessed for detention under the Mental Health Act 1983. Subsequent observations concluded an improvement in mood and consequently the consultant psychiatrist allowed M home leave at her request during which she committed suicide.  

Claimants alleged the Trust acted in a way incompatible with its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950. They claimed the Trust had failed to satisfy its operational obligation under Article 2 to protect M’s right to life.  

Held: Whilst all hospitals assume responsibility for safety and treatment of patients, operational obligation to mental patients under Article 2 is confined to those who are detained. The duty to protect patients’ lives required Health Authorities to adopt appropriate systems of work, case of Savage followed. Trust had an established system for assessing suicide risk which was not susceptible to challenge under Article 2.