New Mental Health Laws Will Endanger Public, Say Experts

By Foster, Kate | Daily Mail (London), July 11, 2002 | Go to article overview

New Mental Health Laws Will Endanger Public, Say Experts


Foster, Kate, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: KATE FOSTER

NEW laws allowing hundreds of mentally ill patients to be treated in the community will pose a threat to public safety, care experts have warned.

Former criminal offenders, schizophrenics and patients who are suffering from manic depression are to be released from hospitals and treated at home under a new Bill being pushed through the Scottish parliament.

But police and psychiatric nurses last night said they lacked the staff and resources to supervise such a move - and warned that it could lead to a rise in attacks by patients on members of the public.

Scotland's Mental Health Bill is aimed at strengthening the rights of mentally ill people. At present, patients who suffer relapses of their condition are given compulsory treatment in hospital.

Under the new Bill, 200 such patients a year will be allowed to stay at home, with their care supervised by health professionals.

But Andy Chetty, Scottish chairman of the Community Psychiatric Nurses Association, said: 'If the system is not properly resourced, people will not receive the correct care.

' More nurses are being recruited but that will take years.

We do not want a repeat of the attacks and murders that have happened in the past.' Scottish Police Federation spokesman Norrie Flowers said the move would place further pressure on beat officers who were already overstretched.

He added: 'If there is a disturbance involving one of these patients our officers must make it their priority. We are not saying we should not and will not deal with such incidents, but they will increase our workload. …

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