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.
Mental Health organisations have condemned government proposals to amend laws governing the treatment of people with severe mental health problems saying they were “not fit for the 21st century”.
The Government published its new Mental Health Bill today, which it said would toughen up existing laws and offer “more protection for public and patients”.
The Bill will allow people with untreatable personality disorders to be detained even if they have not committed a crime.
Leading mental health charities and organisations have strongly criticised the Bill as “unfair, unnecessary and unfit for purpose”. They said they fear that the new legislation would give patients less protection than existing laws.
Employers are far less likely to employ people with mental illnesses than those with physical ailments, a report shows.
Just 20% of those with severe mental health problems have jobs, compared with 65% who have physical problems.
The government is launching an initiative urging employers to improve conditions for people with a mental health problem.
It is estimated one in four people will suffer a mental illness at some point in their lives.
Health inspectors criticise the NHS in England in a report today for failure to provide talking therapy for the mentally ill, as an alternative to medication.
The Healthcare Commission said the government recommended counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy for all patients with schizophrenia or suspected schizophrenia. But the inspectors’ first national review of mental health services found only 50% were given access to it.
They also discovered that mental health patients living in the community cannot rely on getting NHS help in a crisis. Just over half are not provided with an out-of-hours number of a mental health worker who can be contacted in an emergency. Anna Walker, the commission’s chief executive, said: “For care in the community to work for the mentally ill more access is needed to talking therapies and out-of hours crisis care.”
THE Health Service is complacent and fatalistic about the physical needs of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities, according to an investigation by the Disability Rights Commission.
Patients in this group are more likely to suffer from a range of illnesses and to die younger, yet they often re- ceive worse care, it said.
The commission concluded that hundreds of thousands had poor access to treatments and information.
Many even found that their physical symptoms were blamed on their mental health problems.