Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Dr Geoff Searle (CP 38)

  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 medication—which 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 submission.

Dr G F Searle

30 January 2006

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