letters: Mental health

Thank you for drawing attention to the National Schizophrenia Fellowship report on rationing atypical antipsychotics (news, page 7, 5 August). It is appalling that 40 per cent of the health authorities surveyed provided no funding to use these drugs.

We have a daughter, now aged 30, who has been ill since she was 14. She has a diagnosis of schizophrenia/personality disorder. She has spent most of the last 16 years in one sort of psychiatric care or another: acute wards, challenging behaviour unit, prison, secure units, hostels for mentally ill people, rehabilitation units, even a flat in the community without aftercare until it was too late to prevent a slide back into the morasse.

Two years ago, the independent psychiatrist who reported to a mental health review tribunal recommended a trial with Clozaril. The tribunal adjourned the hearing until trust managers were willing to bear the expense. For the first six months it seemed to make little difference. Then it was like a flower starting to unfold. Each time we saw our daughter there was some improvement.

Clozaril has given us back our daughter; hang the expense. Clozaril has brought her back from no man's land, from the depths of despair.

I have thanked my God many times that we do not live in one of the HA areas that do not fund Clozaril and similar drugs. How will the National Institute for Clinical Excellence deal with this? And where will psychiatry be in the list of priorities when NICE faces the competing demands of expensive treatments across many illness groups?

Rev Frank Crowther

Group co-ordinator for North Nottinghamshire

National Schizophrenia Fellowship