Mental health charities are calling for more co-ordinated services for adults with multiple needs, following the criticisms of an inquiry into the care of a mental health patient who murdered four people.
The independent probe into Daniel Gonzales’s case criticised agencies in Surrey for failing to engage effectively with him, but concluded that there could be difficulties in providing services to patients like Gonzales across the country.
It said his profile – having schizophrenia, unemployed, involved in drugs and petty crime, difficult to engage, and having spent time homeless and in prison – was typical of a “large group of service users”, and shared by most people with schizophrenia who killed.
Gonzales was seen by GPs, psychiatrists, community mental health teams and probation officers in Surrey from 1997, when he was 17, to 2004. He was also detained under the Mental Health Act and known to police.
Rethink’s director of public affairs, Paul Corry, said the report underlined the importance of services fully engaging with people with mental illness – its key recommendation.
Falling between services
Kathryn Hill, director of mental health programmes at the Mental Health Foundation, said people with chaotic lifestyles who did not neatly fit the remit of mental health or substance misuse services had been “falling between the two” for many years.
“We need to make sure that services can work together to provide effective help to people who are risk of harming themselves or others.”
Early intervention critical
Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said the Gonzales case highlighted the “critical nature of early intervention in mental health care”.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said young people at the beginnings of psychotic illness could access support from nearly 150 early intervention services across England, while 249 assertive outreach teams were there to engage “hard to reach” service users.
Gonzales was jailed for life in 2006 for the murders of four people and attempted murders of two people in 2004. The following year he died in Broadmoor Hospital, apparently as a result of suicide, aged 27.
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In From the Margins – report by the Making Every Adult Matter coalition