Today The Guardian reported: The Care Quality Commission (CQC, the NHS care watchdog) said in its annual review of mental health services that it was a "serious cause for concern" that so many of those admitted informally for care and treatment, mainly in hospitals, were then detained. They said: There were 50,408 cases of people being detained for compulsory treatment under the Mental Health Act in England during 2012-13; the total topped 50,000 for the first time and marked a 12% rise over the previous five years, from 44,093 in 2008-09.
However over recent years the number of available beds has been reduced because (in an ideal world with plenty of money) most mental health patients are best treated in the community rather than in hospital. The current economic situation means that more people are under the kinds of stress which triggers mental illness, so the need for community treatment is increasing. At the same time government imposed economies are resulting in reduced community services and so the waiting times for treatment (for those lucky enough to get it) are increasing. This means that more and more people are not getting the early treatment they need until too late - and they have become desperately ill. The whole thing can develop into a vicious spiral when more serious (and expensive) patients means less resources are available to stop people becoming seriously ill.
I find this news very disturbing as it brings to mind images which still, on occasions, return to haunt me, as the sort of thing that was happening 40 years ago is still happening now - with our prisons taking more and more mentally disturbed prisoners, many of whom are only there because they did not get proper medical support in time.
So what happened 30 years ago that makes me think of the small flap in the front of a prison cell door.