In times of pessimism when psychiatry is described as in decline, subject to public scepticism with the psychiatrist's role threatened by social workers, psychologists and community nurses, one's immediate reaction is to adopt a historical perspective. The advances achieved during the last 50 years which I recall are so impressive that it seems reasonable to see current legal and bureaucratic problems as resembling a ditch rather than a precipice! These advances have occurred in spite of adverse administrative situations. It is important to remember that in spite of its merits the National Health Service was not conceived with Mental Health Services in mind—nor were Social Work Services.
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