The private sector is now responsible for 40 per cent of in-patient residential psychiatric care in this country. Responsibility for registration and inspection of private homes lies with local authorities, yet only two of the 28 authorities questioned in a recent survey claimed to have a register. It is hard to fathom how homes can be inspected on this basis.
As far as mental health is concerned, there is no such thing as a free-market solution. That much we should have learned from the early 19th-century scandals which led to the building of state asylums.
Nearly 200 years on, in spite of huge advances in knowledge, we seem to be no nearer a vision of treatment for the mentally ill which, if implemented, would mark us out as a civilised society. Must we really wait for the old wheel to come full circle before we get back to basics?
The Zito Trust, London WC2