Charity criticises a mental health service in London for paying people to take medication

A charity has criticised a mental health service in London for paying people diagnosed with a severe mental illness to take their medication.

East London Community Mental Health Trust said the use of payments has increased use of medication and cut hospital admissions for some patients.

But critics say the move does did not offer a “real solution” for improving medication use.

Between 20% and 50% of adults being treated by psychiatric services are estimated not to take their prescribed medication.

The trust says its assertive outreach programme has, since 2003, offered five patients of between £5 and £15 per injection of medication.

Four accepted, and were found to be more likely to take their drugs as they should and to stay in independent accommodation, said consultant psychiatrist Dr Dirk Claassen of East London Community Mental Health Trust

He said: “The results in terms of reduced hospital admissions for the patients who accepted the offer seem beneficial.

“There is no harm intended or caused, the service user can revoke the offer at any time, and the treatment is generally available.”

But mental health charity Rethink’s chief executive Paul Jenkins told the BBC that payments were not a priority for developing services for people with severe mental illness.

The key issue was the sometimes “devastating” side-effects of medication, he said.

“The research we have done and the calls we get to our advice line report people suffering things like significant weight gain, tiredness, agitation or depression, or physical symptoms like shaking,” Mr Jenkins added.

“These can affect people’s lives very significantly and have a real impact on their ability to keep to taking their medication.”

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