Letter: Free market in mental health

THE headline over two letters 'How the system fails the mentally ill on the streets' (31 July) is misleading. The term 'on the street' generally refers to homeless people, and the first letter was not about such a person but a person who was obviously sectionable.

Dr Philip Timms then wrote 'about those who were obviously disturbed on the streets'. Obvious to whom? Then, in the last paragraph he suggests that the public has a right to be protected against such people. Appearing disturbed does not imply that a person is dangerous.

If a person is a danger then that person is sectionable. If not, they should be free to leave hospital and, if they so desire, live on the street. It might offend our visual sense, but that is nothing compared with the offence of locking them up - either physically or with drugs.

Dr Timms should remember that the medical profession, in particular the psychiatric section, has not had a universally good record where human rights are concerned, particularly the human rights of those who have least in society.

Des Stockley

Godalming, Surrey