Letter: Lethal cocktail for psychiatrically ill

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Sir: I read Bryan Silcock's letter (6 January) about his son's refusal of medical treatment with regret. May I add a few more case histories to illustrate the plight of the psychiatrically ill in our society.

One of my male patients remained psychotic and unable to claim social security benefits for three years. During this time, his family clothed and fed him. Only when he masturbated on a British Rail train in front of a group of female passengers was it recognised that he needed psychiatric treatment. His form of schizophrenia was of a withdrawn type and he lacked the florid symptoms that many possess.

Another patient attempted to kill himself by gassing himself in his car on a moor. This man was rescued by the police and taken to a local casualty department. From here he was discharged without seeing a psychiatrist and now, a year later, remains untreated as a psychiatric case begging on the streets in the villages of Oxfordshire. This man has refused all voluntary offers of care.

Another female patient became severely disturbed and requested psychiatric admission. This was refused as no clear psychiatric diagnosis could be made. Despite my insistence on her admission, I failed and 'intensive community care' was prescribed. This person set light to herself and her charred breast took five weeks in a burns unit to heal. Subsequently, she spent three months as a psychiatric in-patient.

The last decade of psychiatric reforms has produced a lethal cocktail for some of society's most inadequate and disturbed individuals who are being denied both drug treatment and/or a psychiatric bed in the name of individual freedom and community care.

Yours faithfully,


Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire