Attacks lead to rethink on mentally ill

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The Independent Online
A new quango to supervise the welfare of the mentally ill is among the options the Health Secretary, Stephen Dorrell, will put forward this week to replace the Government's discredited policy of care in the community.

A consultation document will propose a range of options including a statutory mental health commission which would co-ordinate moves to find the right forms of treatment. The re-think follows high-profile cases in recent years in which mentally ill people have attacked others or provoked injuries to themselves.

Mr Dorrell last year indicated that Government strategy would centre on three types of treatment: hospital, smaller nursing homes, and community care.

One senior source said last week: "What we are seeking to do is to improve our capacity to identify people who need mental health care, and the management and delivery of that care".

This week's green paper will suggest four options to improve the management of services:

A new independent mental health commission in each area responsible for all management.

A new mental health authority acting as a subsidiary of health authorities and social services departments.

n A new set of agreements between health authorities and social services departments to allow them to transfer cash.

n Creation of joint budgets for health authorities and social services departments.

The publication is the first of a series of moves planned by Mr Dorrell to try and capture the initiative from Labour in the run-up to the general election.