I was not sure what Mary Riddell is saying about how the Mental Health Act (1983) needs to be reformed (It's not only Frank. The inadequacy of mental health provision must be addressed now, September 28, 2003). She may not be aware that if Frank Bruno had been admitted to psychiatric hospital at the time when the Act was first introduced, he would not have been restrained by 'more than 10 policemen after flying into a rage'. The police are coming more into psychiatric hospitals than they ever used to. In 1983 the open nature of acute psychiatric wards was accepted. Now the positive side of taking the risk of opening psychiatric wards tends not to be appreciated and in many ways we have returned to the worst institutionalised behaviour of the asylum. I think reform of the Mental Health Act should be supported if it will help this situation, but I am not clear how Mary Riddell or the Government think it will.

D B Double

Consultant Psychiatrist
Norfolk Mental Health Care NHS Trust, Norwich

28 September 2003