Being sectioned under the Mental Health Act is traumatic, but a section being delayed because of a row over funding is even more distressing.

As we report this week, there is mounting evidence of people in extreme mental distress ending up in police cells rather than hospitals because of confusion over who should be paying for the bed.

The Mental Health Act Commission has warned it is "improper" that a patient needing urgent admission to hospital under the act should be delayed "by an entirely avoidable requirement to ascertain its funding prior to admitting the patient".

Primary care trusts are in no doubt about what they should be doing: if someone urgently needs a mental health bed, money should not be a consideration.

But there can be disagreements over which PCT should be paying for the care of a person needing to be sectioned if they are outside the area where they live. This is a particular problem in London, so often a magnet for people in a crisis, and where there is severe pressure on beds.

The Mental Health Act Commission is right to call for clarity before the problem escalates, leading to tension between PCTs and worsening outcomes. Confusion or disagreement over funding must not get in the way of urgent care.