The present deplorable state of affairs in mental health facilities is easily explained. Between 1970 and 1999 some 87,000 mental health beds were closed, according to the Department of Health.

The present deplorable state of affairs in mental health facilities is easily explained. Between 1970 and 1999 some 87,000 mental health beds were closed, according to the Department of Health.

There have been no improvements in the treatment of mental illness that might account for this loss of beds.

Over the past 60 years the population of the UK has significantly increased and with this has been an inevitable increase in the numbers of mentally ill patients.

As a consequence of these two factors there is now a substantial prison population of mentally ill persons, and since incarceration is no treatment for mental illness, many of these patients reoffend and return to populate our prisons. This is clearly going to be a recurrent problem until there are more appropriate facilities.

The situation in which an inadequate mental health service has to financially bail out other NHS services is quite obviously farcical and would be a public scandal in most other developed countries.

In most other developed countries health insurance may be effected through government or private insurers, while providers of medical services are private businesses often in competition with one another, which makes for quality and efficiency virtually unknown in this country.

Charles Owen Lister, Conservative Councillor, Swindon Borough Council