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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 July, 2004, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Out of sight, out of mind
Rosie and Michel
Michel (on the right) entered a Czech hospital after a breakdown

BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents, Crossing Europe was broadcast on Thursday, 8 July, 2004 at 1100 BST.

The programme was repeated on Monday, 12 July 2004, at 2030 BST.

"I wanted help, I wanted an explanation, but I was just locked up," Michel told the programme.

Four years ago he was locked up in a caged bed. He had been admitted to a hospital in Brno in the Czech Republic after suffering a nervous breakdown.

In a space smaller than an animal cage at a zoo, Michel was prisoner for a week.

"I felt helpless. I felt betrayed by the carers and my family," he said.

There are thousands of caged beds in hospitals and care homes across the Czech Republic

Michel's case is not an isolated one. There are thousands of caged beds in hospitals and care homes across the Czech Republic.

The average cage is two metres long by one metre wide and just over a metre high, secured by a padlock.

Many patients are locked in the beds for years.

In Crossing Continents, Crossing Europe, Rosie Goldsmith travels to the Czech Republic to investigate why mentally ill patients in the 21st Century are routinely subjected to what has been described as a "medieval and inhuman practise".

The government there has come under international pressure to ban the beds, but there is a strong lobby that feels their use is justified.

Island scandal

One country which has experienced some of the most dramatic changes in Europe in its provision of care for the mentally ill is Greece.

The world was shocked by pictures of patients chained up and naked

Twenty five years ago, the world was shocked by pictures of patients chained up and naked in a psychiatric hospital on the island of Leros.

It was dubbed the 'island of the damned' and regarded as the worst mental institution in the whole of Europe.

Patients there had been abandoned, out of sight, out of mind. Many were not even mentally ill.

One woman was admitted because she had refused to marry the man chosen by her parents.

Shamed into action, the Greeks have today enacted some remarkable reforms, helped by EU funding and an army of foreign mental health experts.

Producer: Emma Rippon
Presenter: Rosie Goldsmith
Editor: Maria Balinska



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SEE ALSO:
Czech man's week in a cage
07 Jul 04 |  Crossing Continents
Rosie Goldsmith: Biography
30 Oct 03 |  Crossing Continents
Country profile: Czech Republic
28 Jun 04 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Greece
25 May 04 |  Country profiles


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