Letter: Threat to facility for schizophrenics

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your columns have been full of articles and letters about the neglect of people with schizophrenia. However, in addition to the overloaded local community services whose inadequacies have been so graphically depicted, there have existed two nationally funded centres to which sufferers, and their relatives, anywhere in the UK could turn - Northwick Park Hospital and the Bethlem Royal Hospital.

Unfortunately, the Medical Research Council is closing the Northwick Park Unit, and the Bethlem Royal Unit is now put at risk by the recommendation in the report by Sir Bernard Tomlinson that London postgraduate teaching hospitals should lose their central funding. Hitherto, this funding has meant that my colleagues and I have been able to offer in- patient or out-patient care to people with schizophrenia without worrying if the sufferer's GP or local health authority is able to pay for 'out of district' care.

If this recommendation is implemented, district health authorities may not be able to compensate for the withdrawal of our central funding, and yet another facility for the care of people with schizophrenia may close. It would be more than ironic if this happened as an accidental consequence of Sir Bernard's recommendations, as the report itself drew specific attention to the shortage of beds for people with schizophrenia.

Yours faithfully,

ROBIN M. MURRAY

Professor of Psychological

Medicine

King's College Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry

London, SE5

12 January

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