Schizophrenia care in England is failing and requires a major overhaul

A year ago a Schizophrenia Commission was setup to investigate the conditions in which the schizophrenic population found itself in. It found that patients spent a lot of time in demoralized and dysfunctional” hospital wards. The commission stated that schizophrenia cost 12 billion pounds a year to England and this could be avoided by preventing the illness.

The government reply was that mental illnesses is in the list of its top priorities. A spokesman said they made it clear to the National Health Service that people with mental illnesses should be treated with the same respect and dignity as anybody else.

The commission was established by Rethink Mental Illness and it stated that there is too much money going to secure care. That is about 19% of mental health budget the previous year. In the meantime people who need mental health assistance end up spending long hours in expensive units.

There were 42 recommendations made in the report released by the commission. Among those, one suggestion was the better use of “recovery houses” in the community. Those houses could be use as an alternative to hospitals. It cost in average for a mental patient 321 pounds a day to be kept in a hospital bed. That means the patients will spend more than 12 000 pounds for a typical 38 days admission.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects a person’s thinking ability, his feelings and behavior. The symptoms of that disorder are hallucinations like hearing voices, loss of energy, emotion and interest.

One other suggestion the commission is making is to extend the early intervention team whose purpose is to help people before their hallucination and delusions get worse. As for now, the commission reports that those teams have been cut or diluted.

Prof Sir Robin Murray, the commission chairman said that a person with psychosis needs a period of respite and calm. Unfortunately in inner cities, a person with psychosis will rather end up in something equivalent to a madhouse. He emphasized on the fact that the better experience people have in the in-patient units will determine their willingness to come back when they have another episode. That is why the improvement of the in-patient unit should be a top priority. Another suggestion from the chairman is to stop spending on high-security as it is done right now. Instead of making those patients spend their time in those security units, the money should be spent on getting those people rehabilitated quickly. There is a possibility for a person with schizophrenia to get violent but that is a rare case and most with that disorder tend to live stable lives.

The commission also made an economic analysis concerning the employment rate of people with schizophrenia. They reported that as low as 7% of schizophrenic people were employed and a lot had a disrupted education. The commission added that there are certain costs that goes with schizophrenia that cannot be avoided. Nonetheless it would be helpful if people relied on family therapy and concerted themselves to find jobs for the schizophrenic patient.

Paul Jenkins, a member of the commission, stated that it is a scandal to know that people with schizophrenia in 2012 are dying 15-20 years earlier in comparison to the general population. The report admitted that tackling those health physical consequences will probably take much longer than expected but economically, it will make sense.