ABSTRACT

Sadly, there is little evidence that the highly publicized scandals and the public inquiries they provoke actually contribute to the development of an informed public opinion concerning the fundamental realities of psychiatric care in Britain. The more sensational aspects of these cases inevitably and perhaps understandably are highlighted by the media while the public are invariably shocked and angered by the disclosures of serious professional incompetence and misconduct. However, those conditions which greatly foster such abuses receive much less in the way of serious investigation. Indeed, Inskip, who chaired the South Ockenden and St Augustine's Inquiries, has reluctantly concluded that such inquiries 'burn up money that is desperately needed to improve the Health Service, disrupt the work of the hospital, and often have a devastating effect on individual and group morale, leaving in their wake a legacy of corrosive bitterness. They should be avoided wherever possible' (Inskip and Edwards 1979).