Letters

Your report on the proposed merger of high-security hospitals with local mental health trusts expresses the scepticism of various mental health experts (news, page 8, 15 July).

The North Nottinghamshire group of carers of the mentally ill, being directly affected by the proposal, is also sceptical. Indeed, we have advised our local health authority that we oppose the idea of merging Rampton Hospital with Central Nottinghamshire trust.

We are opposed on two counts.

We can see no advantage, since the local mental health service cannot be described as having any expertise in the field of secure services - until 1 April not a single secure bed was managed by the trust.

We believe the merger will create a single trust in which the demands of the secure service will outweigh the non-secure to an extent which may seriously prejudice the development and day to day management of the non-secure.

We understand that the budget of the proposed single trust will be in the order of 60:40 in favour of secure services. This is the ground of our scepticism.

If the merger is expected to bring about economies in management costs, then we fear that this may be at the expense of the non-secure service. We have been told that the management would be arranged in separate directorates so that non-secure services do not suffer from the demands of big brother. But this seems to us simply to bolster our case.

We appreciate the government's concern about the management of the special hospitals, especially after the report of the Fallon inquiry, and we can see the need to bring them more within the fold of the NHS. But is this really the way? Isn't the DoH simply clutching at straws?

Frank Crowther

National Schizophrenia FellowshipNorth Notts group co-ordinator