Mentally ill patients offered cash to take drugs

Mentally ill patients are being paid by the NHS to take their drugs in a radical experiment to improve compliance.

Four patients suffering from schizophrenia are receiving between £5 and £15 each time they have a “depot” injection – a long acting drug which is normally given once a month.

The payments handed out by the Newham Centre for Mental Health in east London have dramatically improved the patients’ adherence to treatment and reduced the time they spend in hospital suffering relapses, and problems with neighbours and the police.

But the scheme has been attacked by mental health managers who say it is unethical, coercive and could have a negative effect on the therapeutic relationship.

Persuading mentally ill patients to take their drugs is one of the big challenges in psychiatry, with non-adherence rates ranging from 20 to 50 per cent. Many of the inquiries into killings by people with mental illness have shown that the crime happened after they stopped taking their drugs.

Independent Online Edition > Health Medical

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