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Care in the Community was a policy of the Margaret Thatcher government in the 1980s. Its professed aim was a more liberal way of helping people with mental health problems, by removing them from impersonal, often Victorian, institutions, and caring for them in their own homes. Also, better psychotropic drugs became available and this meant that patients could be treated at home. It was, of course, also meant to be cheaper.
The policy has been beset by problems, not the least of which has been a number of killings by mentally-ill people being cared for in their own homes.
An inquiry was set up, and this led to the National Health Service and Community Care Act of 1990. Patients were to be individually assessed, and assigned a specific care worker; if they presented a risk they were to be placed on a Supervision Register. But there have been further problems with patients "slipping through the net" and ending up homeless on the street. There have also been arguments between Health and Social Services departments on who should pay.
In January 1998, the Labour Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, said the care in the community programme launched by the Conservatives had failed ( Care in the community to be scrapped, BBC, 1998. URL accessed on September 26, 2005.).
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