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Wednesday 8 September, 2010

More than 7,000 community treatment orders (CTOs) for people with a mental illness have been issued to date – a far higher number than was expected, experts have said.

The surge raises concerns about the number of people under compulsory treatment for mental health issues, according to a study from the Mental Health Alliance.

Patients detained in hospital can be discharged under CTOs and supervised by a doctor, nurse or social worker.

Care plans include medication and therapeutic treatments, but can also include detail to restrict a patient’s movements.

If a patient refuses to take medication, they can be sent back to hospital.

The report said the Department of Health significantly underestimated CTO use in the first 12 months following their introduction in November 2008.

Rather than the expected 400 to 600, around 4,000 CTOs were issued across England and Wales in the first year, and more than 6,000 had been issued by the end of March this year. “The (total) number is likely to have risen to over 7,000 by the end of July 2010, with some 4,000 to 5,000 patients under a CTO at that date,” the study said.

The report pointed to “serious concerns” about the increase, including the “disproportionate use” of CTOs for people from black and minority ethnic communities and the possibility people are being discharged from hospital earlier than they should be. Experts also pointed to shortcomings in community support and delays for patients in obtaining second opinions to authorise treatment.

Alison Cobb, chair of the Mental Health Alliance, said: “We are concerned about the large numbers of people made subject to CTOs, given their coercive nature and the limited international evidence for positive effects.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We welcome this report. Community treatment orders are a potentially useful tool when used properly. But we must all remain vigilant to ensure that they are not being used unnecessarily or ineffectively. In the months ahead, we will be working across Government to reshape the mental health strategy to set clear outcomes and offer a roadmap for delivering them.”

Source:  http://uk.news.yahoo.com/21/20100907/thl-concern-over-mental-health-orders-d831572.html



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