Memorandum submitted by Dr Geoff Searle
I am a Consultant Psychiatrist in Bournemouth.
I have recently taken on a role leading a Community Crisis Response
Team. I was unaware of your inquiry until I saw a news item in
the BMA news two days ago. I would like to raise two points.
1. The current charging rules have a serious
impact on those with serious mental illness who require long term
treatment. Such patients are invariably on disability benefit
and pay prescription charges. They never have enough cash in hand
to buy pre-payment certificates. For those on three or four medications
long term the prescription charges are a considerable burden and
expense, and for those with doubts about the need for medication
the charges are a great excuse not to comply with needed treatment.
At present on occasion Health workers have to "mistakenly"
fill in the prescription as if the patient is on income support.
2. I have taken over a crisis intervention
team and we are trying to find flexible alternatives to in-patient
care. However as our patients are not in hospital they have to
be charged for their medicationwhich is very difficult
and complex for my team (especially if we are giving the patients
their medication and monitoring their compliance). The cost can
also be considerable for any patient on three or four medications
when doses are changed frequently or prescriptions are kept short
to guard the patient from a dangerous overdose.
Overall the current NHS charging for medication
rules are a significant obstruction to modern psychiatric practice.
I would be happy to give oral evidence. This is an individual
Dr G F Searle
30 January 2006