The sudden collapse of the communist order in Czechoslovakia and the formal installation of the new government in June 1990 has led, inter alia, to a fundamental reappraisal of mental health care. On a visit to Prague in September 1990 the system under the 40-year-old communist regime was still largely intact but clearly about to undergo major changes. Among the reform proposals made by a working group of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of the Czech republic are practices familiar to western psychiatrists: mental health care and specialist liaison in primary care settings; formal specialisation within psychiatry into general adult psychiatry, psychogeriatrics, child and adolescent psychiatry, psychotherapy; psychiatric units in general hospitals; community care with restructuring of funding away from the mental hospital budget and devolution to districts. More “humanisation” of psychiatry is envisaged, with choice of consultant, increased competition between doctors and legal definitions of involuntary treatment (Potucek et al, 1990). Voluntary organisations, existing until recently only underground, will be encouraged as also will be counselling services. Dementia, and drugs and alcohol misuse, are seen more as social service than medical issues. Of particular interest is a proposal to separate mental health funding from the rest of the health care budget.
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