Research Article

First seven years of a new NHS mental handicap service 1974-81.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 285 doi: (Published 24 July 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;285:269
  1. A M Myers


    A new community-focused mental handicap service was started in a single-district area health authority in 1974. Almost 90% of all the severely mentally handicapped people in a population of 250,000 are now known to the service. Although two-thirds of long stay inpatients originally admitted with major behavioural problems have had them resolved, the remaining one-third with persisting problems are noted to have spent many years in large understaffed wards before transfer. Specialist services to mentally handicapped people are not synonymous with beds. The learning opportunities during the waking hours of a mentally handicapped person are where professional help must be concentrated, and extensive support services for those caring for the mentally handicapped at home must be set up. Absence of shared philosophies, policies, and planning among the health and local authorities has produced the problems and frustrations familiar to many professionals in mental handicap. Future developments must be based on clearly defined and declared principles.