Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Maudsley, schizophrenia and the £400,000 shortfall

There's a new advert that highlights the dangers of cannabis and mental health problems. Over the last week there's been an absolute plethora of articles in the newspapers about families with children who have mental health problems; a boy on a secure ward at the age of 16 and a piece in The Guardian about families who live with their children and/or siblings who suffer a range of mental illnesses.

Today I read that The Maudsley, one of the most renowned psychiatric hospitals in the UK, is cutting beds in order to save £400,000 from their costs. They're going to send even more schizophrenics and Bipolar patients into 'care in the community', as if it had worked before.

£400,000 is a paltry amount when one considers the sums each individual health area commands. The boss of The Royal Free in Hampstead last week complained that their new computer system was costing them an extra £10 million! Maybe The Maudsley should ask for funding from The Big Lottery.

I see that Friends, Familes and Travellers, Brighton [gipsy and travellers' rights group] have been awarded £414,017; Race on the Agenda, London [think-tank focusing on issues that affect ethnic communities], £483,824. Indeed, if you add another two: Friends of Birzeit University, London [supports Palestinian students at the West Bank university] £241,621 and the Greenwich Action Committee against Racist Attacks £269,795, then you'd have enough to replenish the shortfall.

Isn't it absolutely absurd? Why is it that mental health funding is treated so absymally in this country? If the government is running a campaign to promote the link between the increase of mental health problems because of the exponential use of cannabis and the implication that these will lead to more hospital stays, then why isn't there more funding available?

If it is the case that there is not enough money in the government's coffers (it's all presumably going to shore up the banks), then maybe The National Lottery should get involved. It's prepared to waste enough resources on specious PC groups. Why should the Bosnia Hercogovina Community Advice Centre, Brent, North London be awarded £438,117?

I'm appalled to think that people will be excluded from a hospital bed because The Maudsley is either unable to balance the books or because there simply isn't sufficient cash to maintain care for the most vulnerable patients in the country. It's a disgrace and there should be questions in Parliament about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

mental hospitals and medication often appear to help families in giving a respite from worry but I fear that its where the real long term damage is done. I have had admissions under section to the hell holes, no one would ever persuade me to go willingly or allow someone I loved to go. My mother died in just such a place sadly it was her I inherited this nasty illness from. I have never taken an illegal drug. Please try to understand its the hospitals and antipsychotic drugs and the stigma we hate. The mdf bipolar self management offers far more hope of a life worth living some drugs legal and illegal just destroy lives. Try a few nights in a mental hospital and talk to the poor people trapped there if you wan to help your son.