Headlines: August 3rd, 1998

Reforms designed to deliver safe and comprehensive mental health services have been set out by Health Secretary Frank Dobson. Mr Dobson says he wants a third way for mental health.

New measures will include extra funding, a root and branch review of the law, specialist secure units, hour crisis teams and helplines, more acute hospital beds, and assertive outreach teams to keep tabs on people who have been discharged.

Frank Dobson says: “Care in the community has failed. Discharging people from institutions has brought benefits to some. But it has left many vulnerable patients to try to cope on their own. Others have been left to become a danger to themselves and a nuisance to others. Too many confused and sick people have been left wandering the streets and sleeping rough. A small but significant minority have become a danger to the public as well as themselves.

“I want to see a system in which both patients and public are safe and sound – a system which provides both security and support to all who need it. This cannot be achieved by going back to locking up mentally ill patients in long stay institutions so they are out of sight and out of mind.”