BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Friday, 14 April, 2000, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Psychiatrist leads mental health reform
Mental health
Mental illness is a growing problem
A top psychiatrist has been appointed to spearhead the government's drive to modernise mental health services.

Professor Louis Appleby is to become National Director of Mental Health for the NHS in England.

He is currently Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manchester and Director of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicides and Homicides by People with Mental Illness.

This new post confirms that mental health and people with mental illness are a priority

Professor Louis Appleby, National Director of Mental Health

The National Service Framework for Mental Health, launched this month, sets seven national standards for mental health services.

The aim is to drive up quality and reduce variations in services to patients and service users.

It will include round-the-clock crisis teams for emergencies, more mental health beds and improved training for GPs.

Ministers also want to close a loophole which means dangerous psychopaths who are considered "untreatable" cannot be locked up unless they commit a crime.

The framework is backed by government funding of 700m over three years.

Professor Appleby said: "This new post confirms that mental health and people with mental illness are a priority to health and social services.

"It provides an excellent opportunity to improve the quality of services to the benefit of patients, service users and their families.

"Putting the National Service Framework into practice will ensure a modern and effective system of mental health care."

Announcing the appointment on Friday, health minister John Hutton said Professor Appleby had a wealth of clinical and academic expertise.

"He will provide clinical leadership and galvanise expertise in the mental health field."

Huge challenge

Cliff Prior, chief executive of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, said Professor Appleby faced a huge challenge.

This is a tsar who needs to start a revolution

Cliff Prior, chief executive, National Schizophrenia Fellowship

He said: "He must make sure that people with severe mental illness and their carers get the help they need quickly and effectively.

"He must also make sure that mental health is at the forefront of the Government's mind when they are allocating the extra resources promised for the NHS - this is a tsar who needs to start a revolution."

Rabbi Julia Neuberger, chief executive of the health watchdog, The King's Fund, said mental health was a complex issue related to problems such as poverty, unemployment and bad housing.

She said: "The mental health 'tsar' will have to be able to coordinate Government policies on benefits, access to work, criminal justice and housing.

"These are the issues that most affect people with mental illnesses, who suffer high levels of discrimination, isolation and poverty in Britain today."

Around one in seven people suffer from a mental health problem, including anxiety and depression.

Four in 1,000 have a severe mental condition like schizophrenia and 11,500 people are detained in hospitals or homes under the Mental Health Act.

Around 1,000 mentally ill people in England and Wales commit suicide every year and 25 commit a murder.

Mental health has been identified as one of three top priorities by the Department of Health.

Professor Appleby's appointment follows that of Professor Mike Richards as National Director for Cancer and Dr Roger Boyle as National Director for Coronary Heart Disease.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

13 Apr 00 | Health
Jails 'fail' mentally ill
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories