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Schizophrenia map highlights treatment differences

An interactive online map highlighting differences in how schizophrenia is managed across England has been launched.

The Choosing Well? map, a joint initiative by the charities Rethink and Sane and the pharmaceutical company Janssen, combines a range of information including hospital episode statistics, the mental health minimum data set, quality and outcomes framework data and antipsychotic prescribing data.

It is intended to highlight the importance of choice in helping people with schizophrenia to stay well.

Jane Harris, deputy director of external affairs at Rethink, said: “The data in Choosing Well? highlights that there is still work to be done to help the hundreds of thousands of people with schizophrenia get a choice in their treatment and care, both when well and at the earliest opportunity should their mental health decline.

“There is no doubt that services will come under scrutiny as budgets tighten and consortia commissioning starts to make an impact but this should not be at the expense of patient care.

“We need to avoid as far as possible situations where all choice is taken away, as this can have a negative impact on an individual’s chances of recovering and their family’s wellbeing.”

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane, commented: “It is important that people with schizophrenia are able to discuss and choose a package of care suited to their individual needs, including medication, psychological and other therapies and treatment in hospital if needed during an acute episode.

“This spotlight on schizophrenia care reveals a disturbingly wide variation in what treatment is offered, depending on the trust which provides mental health services.

“There has been a succession of reports showing that patients are not given the time from professionals essential to their understanding of their treatment, or consistent support in learning how to manage their symptoms and prevent relapse.

“This is why the research portraying this ‘true picture’ is timely to ensure that future patients are not forced to play the service user lottery.”

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