Monday, 15 February 2016

Another day, another report

Today we have a report on problems in mental health services in the UK.

They are not good enough for a country of our size and wealth.

If you spoke to anyone who has any experience of working in mental health services, or anyone who has used them, they usually say that this is not news and has been like this for many many years. Certainly, I was keenly aware of all the problems when I was a Jobbing Doctor, so much so that we tried to treat as much in house as we could, as the opinions and back-up for our mental health patients were patchy, mostly bad.

It is being spun today as being an attitudinal problems, and there is some validity in the view that mental health is regarded as less worthwhile by many in the country. The real problem is lack of facilities, lack of resources and lack of people on the front line with the requisite skills. Reorganisation upon reorganisation, and squeeze upon squeeze (all with the support of the Department of Health) has left psychiatric services in their knees.

As an example, I used to use a treatment called Lithium to help with patients with severe bipolar disease: these I started and monitored in primary care, as I felt I had the experience and knowledge to do so. I would have preferred to have these done in secondary care, but the resources were not there to give a good service to my patients.

Who is responsible for the poor quality of mental health services? Is it the public (with their blinkered attitude to mental health)? Is it the front line workers (who are not good enough or plentiful enough)? Or is it the politicians (with their squeeze on funding, and pointless reorganisations)?

I know who I blame: but no-one will take any responsibility for this.

So I give this piece of advice: fund the front line properly, treat the professionals as professionals, and allow them to do the job they want to do.

Is that so hard?