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Letter: Concern over Care in the Community

Sir: In 1984, while studying for a degree in law and government, I was given a placement for six months to work with North-West Thames Regional Health Authority. The project involved visiting the authority area hospitals and talking to staff to assess attitudes and predict problems in the concept of 'Care in the Community'.

The authority is responsible for some of the largest mental hospitals in London, including Barnet and Hillingdon.

Our report concluded that there was opposition to the scheme from all the staff involved with mental health care, on the basis that it was apparent to everyone concerned that many patients were incapable of managing their own affairs, were a danger to themselves or others, and that already overstretched social services were incapable of dealing with the consequences.

Properly financed and managed, 'Community Care' could have been a great step forward in mental- health care. Instead, it has been used by the Government to make substantial savings and has released on to our streets a desperately vulnerable group of people with inadequate support or management.

Yours faithfully,


London, W11