Letter: Community care

Sir: Your report "Tough new controls on violent and `untreatable' patients" (15 November) quoted SANE as being in favour of hospital rather than community treatment. This statement, without explanation, gives a misleading impression which could worry mentally ill people and their families by suggesting that hospital is the only alternative to treatment in the community and that people should be forced to stay there.

Our view is that for many people, community care has been a liberation which works well. But for those few who become so ill that compulsory treatment has to be used as a last resort, it should be provided with all the safeguards needed for what are still "heroic" drugs.

Our concern is that if emphasis is placed on compulsory medication in the community, we might see here - as has been claimed in Australia, where compulsory treatment orders have been introduced - that some authorities use it as an excuse to avoid improving the serious lack of properly funded, holistic care, whether in hospital or the community.

MARJORIE WALLACE

Chief Executive, SANE

London E1

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