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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Schizophrenia care flaws highlighted
Schizophrenia brain image
One in 100 people suffer from schizophrenia
The NHS in Scotland has been warned to speed up the pace of changes in the way it deals with schizophrenia if it is to meet new standards.

The findings of the Clinical Standards Board for Scotland (CSBS), which monitors the performance of the NHS north of the border, have been published.

Its report details how the health service has measured up against six core standards.

The shortcomings include the need for NHS boards to work more effectively with local authorities and other care partners and the need for improved psychological assessment and support for schizophrenics.

Sufferers' thinking process can become distorted

The study is the first detailed examination of the way the NHS in Scotland cares for people with a serious mental health condition.

Schizophrenia is a very common mental illness, affecting about one in 100 people.

Patients have periods when their thinking processes become distorted, when they may hallucinate or 'hear voices'.

Schizophrenia is often linked with violence, but very few patients actually pose a danger to the public.

The Clinical Standards Board's role is to monitor the performance of the NHS.

It aims to encourage better performance by highlighting good practice.

Progress rate

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm, responding to the report, said there were examples of good practice such as Orkney NHS Board setting up an information centre for schizophrenics and their carers.

But he admitted: "I am concerned at the rate of progress in terms of meeting these standards."

Doctor Linda Watt, who chaired the Mental Health Project Group for the board, said carers would have to adopt a systematic approach.

So far there is not a systematic approach to supporting carers in the valuable work that they do

Doctor Linda Watt

Speaking before the release of the report, Dr Watt told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme care for sufferers was normally provided in the community.

Dr Watt said: "Our report shows there are wide variations in the standards and services that trusts are able to provide.

"But the standards and the process we use have already acted as a catalyst for change to improve.

"This illness causes a lot of stress to the individuals and the families. There is evidence in our report that there is some good pro-active work being done by some individual clinicians.

"But so far there is not a systematic approach to supporting carers in the valuable work that they do."

BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser reports
"Doctors say this has been a Cinderella service in terms of funding for too long"
Doctor Linda Watt, project group chairman
"The standards and the process we use have already acted as a catalyst for change to improve"
See also:

11 Apr 02 | Scotland
Cancer treatment delays 'too long'
23 Feb 02 | Health
'I overcame schizophrenia'
08 Jul 01 | Health
Schizophrenics denied best drugs
20 Dec 00 | Medical notes
Schizophrenia: The facts
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