Letter: Pioneers and victims of care in the community

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The Independent Online
Sir: With reference to the article on the Clunis case, one of the problems of care in the community for the mentally ill is that due to pressure on beds, hospitals operate a strict catchment area policy which applies not only to in-patients but also to those discharged back to the community.

When patients relapse, they often become itinerant and may end up with several admissions to or assessments at different hospitals (and possibly detentions by the police) and several different sets of records in different hospitals, social service departments and police stations.

One solution may be to have a centralised computer database containing information about forensic psychiatric patients and arguably other categories of mental illness. Incidents involving reported aggressive behaviour could be logged and dated along with hospital admissions, casualty, police or social service interviews.

If this information were confidential and only made available to the professionals, a more complete picture of recent behaviour would be available and intervention could be planned at an earlier stage to avert the kind of tragedy described in your article.

Yours faithfully,

SARAH WORSFOLD

Hove, Sussex

19 July

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