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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 13:44 GMT
Red tape 'causing mental illness'
Public servants are under increasing stress
Constant political interference is causing stress-induced mental breakdowns in public servants, a consultant psychiatrist has claimed.

Tim Cantopher, of rehabilitation clinic The Priory, said he mostly treated business leaders 20 years ago.

Now most of his patients are public servants such as doctors or teachers.

Writing in Public Servant magazine, Dr Cantopher called on politicians on all sides to "get out of our public services, stop making us ill".

"I primarily treat people suffering from stress-induced mental disorders, such as depressive illness and anxiety states," Prof Cantopher writes.

"Twenty years ago most of my clientele were business executives, but they aren't now.

"Businesses have long since recognised that it is in their employees who are at the highest risk of stress related illness and they mostly nurture and protect them.

"Now it is the public servants who form the bulk of my practice."


He said he was currently treating 44 doctors, but he also had teachers, social workers, tax and benefit workers, ambulance crews and firefighters on his books.

"What these professions now have in common is that they are all victims of the craze so loved by recent governments for regulation and its attendant bureaucracy.

"Politicians need to be needed and for us to believe that they can stop things going wrong.

"They can't, of course, but they have to be seen to be doing something or their opposite numbers will call them complacent."

He said the big change in the past 20 years had been the growth of a bureaucratic "blame culture", which had been fostered by politicians.


When mistakes are made by public servants there is routinely an inquiry, followed by the identification of a scapegoat and then a new "ream" of regulations, which ends up destroying the service itself, Dr Cantopher argues.

"Instead of one catastrophe, we now have an environment that stops people doing their jobs, leading to a downward spiral of mediocrity and disillusionment," he told the magazine.

"I'm fed up with this. I've seen too many of our best people sacrificed at the altar of our leaders' egos," he added.

"So please, politicians, get out of our public services, stop making us ill and let us get on with the jobs we've mostly been doing well until you came along."


The Priory chain of clinics is best known for treating celebrities such as Robbie Williams, Pete Doherty and Michael Barrymore.

Earlier this month, Prof Cantopher revealed there had also been an "explosion" in the number of nurses seeking treatment for stress-related problems at The Priory.

Public sector union Unison blamed NHS cuts which it said were increasing the burdens on the nurses that remain.

The Priory has not revealed who is paying for treatment of doctors and nurses.

The Department of Health has said it is up to individual NHS Trusts to decide where patients are treated.

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