Letter: Register disapproval

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The Independent Online
Sir: Psychiatrists are not the only people who have good cause to be concerned about the Government's supervision registers for 'mentally ill' people - as highlighted in Rosie Waterhouse's article (12 September). The regular flow of letters we receive at Mind shows that opposition to this ill-conceived plan is widespread, encompassing virtually everyone closely affected by the policy - from service users and providers to social workers and other professionals.

Major concerns are that the registers will create a service of control not care, encourage breaches of patient confidentiality and stigmatise people already the target of unjust discrimination - particularly in the case of black people who are more likely than white people to be compulsorily detained in hospital. There is no provision for independent review of, or appeal against, the decision to 'register' a patient.

The registers were introduced by the Government with indecent haste - after a laughably short four-day 'consultation' period. Let's hope they can be replaced just as speedily - with a properly resourced community care system in their stead.

Offering decent community care is the only realistic way to allay psychiatrists' fears that they will be scapegoated for further tragedies and, more importantly from Mind's point of view, the best chance to remove the second-class status given to people experiencing mental health problems.

Yours faithfully,

KATE HARRISON

Head of Legal and Parliamentary Unit

Mind

London, E15

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