Calls for reopening of specialist OCD clinic

OCD-UKNHS and Health (Cat)

In a letter for The Times, Professor David Veale calls for the re-opening of the Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit (ADRU) and other specialist mental health services closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

OCD-UK support Professor Veale’s call to open the Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit and would now also call on NHS England to consider the clinic to be essential, having previously considered it inessential at the start of the pandemic.

Dr Veale’s letter was published in The Times on the 26th August 2020 and the text in full is below:

Mental illness rise
Sir, Professor Karol Sikora highlights how treatment for cancer will be playing catch-up (“Cancer care backlog may cost 30,000 lives, PM told”, Aug 22) because of the NHS’s focus on Covid-19. The detrimental effect on treatment for mental ill­-health is also extremely concerning. I lead a residential service at the Bethlem Royal Hospital treating the most severe forms of obsessive compulsive disorder. The unit was dosed at the start of the lockdown, having been classed as ‘inessential’.

We still have no date for reopening our vital service, despite the fact that each patient is housed in a separate room and people with OCD are generally far more compliant with measures to combat the risk of transmission than the population at large. Sufferers have been particularly badly affected by the virus as it seems to confirm many of their worst fears about contamination and responsibility. The NHS shutdown has made it far worse.

The NHS’s provision for the mentally ill was already struggling before the virus struck. In addition to patients left untreated during lockdown, the incidence and severity of anxiety disorders has increased. Yet the NHS appears to lack any sense of urgency over the disaster threatening to overwhelm the nation’s mental health. It is time it allowed specialist services to reopen so that we can get on with tackling these problems.

Professor David Veale
Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham