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Professor John Read is Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool
“That compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act is now being used as the only way to secure a hospital bed is one of the most alarming consequences to date of NHS cuts.
“Hopefully, however, we have learned from past knee jerk reactions to previous crises in our mental health services and do not go down the superficially attractive but disastrous route of ‘more beds!’
“Trusts that are genuinely listening to service users and their families are developing, to the extent their limited resources allow, humane and effective alternatives to the stigmatising and often frightening hospital ward.
“These alternatives focus on real social and psychological needs rather than trying to suppress human distress with ever increasing prescriptions of drugs, most of which are little better than placebo.
“Admission to psychiatric hospital, compulsory or voluntary, should be an absolute last resort. The gathering together of large numbers of highly distressed people in one building has never been very good for anyone’s mental health – patients or staff.”
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