Bottomley seeks change in mental care
She is concerned that the programme of emptying asylums and caring for most psychiatric cases in the community has gone too far, and that there should be a shift in emphasis, moving some care back to the hospitals.
In an exclusive interview with the Independent on Sunday, she criticised the 'excessive reluctance' of some doctors and social workers to compulsorily commit mentally ill patients to hospital.
She said that, after a largely successful modernisation programme, she was concerned that 'the pendulum has swung too far' and it was time to 'take stock'. There was reluctance and misunderstanding about the legal procedures available, under the 1983 Mental Health Act, to make orders for detaining patients in hospital for their health and safety and the protection of others.
Mrs Bottomley has already announced that she is considering emergency legislation to introduce community supervision orders compelling discharged psychiatric patients to continue treatment and medication. This came after Ben Silcock, a schizophrenic, was badly mauled after climbing into the lions' den at London Zoo last month. Such orders would affect only a small proportion of the 7 per cent of mentally ill people who are compulsorily detained in hospital.
Mrs Bottomley's suggestion that doctors and social services should more often use the powers available to them to detain more serious cases in psychiatric hospitals goes much further.
Her comments came after being told of the harrowing case of a woman who last week attempted suicide, as she had repeatedly threatened to do, on the anniversary of her husband's death. Although she survived, all the authorities seemed powerless to stop her trying again. Social services and police had tried to persuade her to seek psychiatric help in hospital, but she refused.
Shocked by the story, Mrs Bottomley said she was concerned that suicidal people have often previously contacted health and social services. 'In this particular case it is very important that social services departments and local doctors talk through together the procedures and the criteria for making a mental health order. One of the aspects that I am looking at, in deciding whether we need community supervision orders, is whether the present legal powers are being used sufficiently effectively.'
She made no mention of committing new resources to treat more people in hospital. But, she said, a new handbook on care of the mentally ill showed attitudes needed to change.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the charity Sane - Schizophrenia A National Emergency - said Mrs Bottomley's comments indicated 'an important change in attitude and policy'.
She said: 'It is significant that having had, for years and years, a government not criticising doctors and saying the sectioning procedures are perfectly
adequate, for the first time you have a Secretary of State saying the pendulum has swung too far and there needs to be more use of powers, and that doctors and social workers are not interpreting the Mental Health Act correctly.
'Mrs Bottomley is the first secretary of state in ten years who understands that there needs to be a change in attitude and culture, that when someone is irrational there should be intervention.'
Ms Wallace added: 'There needs to be new central money from the Government to give doctors and health authorities the incentive to provide more psychiatric beds and follow-up.'
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
Antonio Martin shooting: Black teenager may have tried to ambush patrolman, says police officer's lawyer
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Boxing Day snowfall set to push even more bargain-hunters online for sales
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...
£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...