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Care for Schizophrenic patients – ‘shameful’

Commission calls for radical service overhaul

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Care for people with schizophrenia in the UK is ‘shameful’ and needs a major overhaul.

This is the finding of The Schizophrenia Commission, which was established in November last year by charity Rethink Mental Illness to review outcomes for people with schizophrenia and psychosis.

In its report published today, the Commission describes ‘a dysfunctional system’ and says schizophrenia remains a stigmatised and misunderstood mental illness. It says this is ‘particularly shameful’ given that great strides in understanding mental illness have been made in the last two decades.

Chaired by the eminent psychiatrist Professor Sir Robin Murray, the review states that the inadequate care that many people with psychosis receive adds greatly to their distress and worsens outcomes.

The review found that people with psychosis rarely have the chance to choose their psychiatrist and families are not treated as partners in care but have to battle for basic services.

“People diagnosed as having schizophrenia have poor access to general practitioners and general hospital care; their physical health suffers and their life is shortened by 15 to 20 years. The fragmentation of services means that people who have a recurrence of their psychosis lose the established relationships with professionals they trust, and instead feel shuttled from one team to another as if on a factory production line,” it stated.

Schizophrenia and psychosis cost society £11.8 billion a year but this could be less, the review found, with proper investment in prevention and effective care.

The review found that levels of compulsory treatment was up by 5% on last year and that too much is spent on secure care – with many people staying too long in these units.

Moreover, only 1 in 10 who could benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy actually get access to true CBT despite this being a NICE recommendation.

The Commission listed 42 detailed recommendations including a radical overhaul of poor acute units, greater partnership and shared-decision making with service users, better prescribing and extended general practitioner training in mental illness.

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