Letters

Mark Gould's article about the Mental Health Act (News Focus, page 14, 25 June) ends with a quote from a Department of Health spokesperson: 'As we have said before, community care has failed'.

This extremely contentious statement seems to have become a DoH mantra in recent months. It really must be scotched before it is enshrined in the government's forthcoming mental health policy statement. There are literally thousands of people living fulfilling lives today for whom community care has worked, is working, and will continue to work. I would be delighted to invite the DoH spokesman to visit one of our projects to meet some of those for whom community care has been a lifeline.

Of course there are instances where individuals have been failed by the community care system. No one denies this. The cases are well documented, and we would support any government action to tackle the cause of these failings. But, as we have pointed out to junior health minister Paul Boateng, every sweeping statement of this kind from the government makes our job much harder, and simply feeds popular prejudice that would exclude people with mental health needs from society.

Gil Hitchon Chief executive MACA London WC1