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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Can we no longer be shocked?

30th July 2006

Those of you who have read the latest issue of Healthcare Today will have picked up on our cover story and the comments made in the editorial that one in ten children suffering mental health problems seems like an awfully big number - yet in the media the story came and went in little more than 24 hours with hardly a comment passed.

Hot on the heals of this observation came the latest report on autism - over 1% of children are now affected - we received the following email from a reader in Wisconsin, USA:

I read the article on autism and the shocking news that over 1% of children are affected. I can't imagine why no one seems alarmed. This is an epidemic rate of a devastating disorder, yet the headline is only: PREVALENCE OF AUTISM INCREASES.
If one percent of children were going blind, would we merely note the rate and not give any possible explanation for the increase? How bad do the numbers have to get before we demand answers?

Is she right? Have we got so used to simply quoting and absorbing statistics that we have lost the ability to be shocked by them? Is this really a shocking state of affairs?

It would seem that one eminent US doctor who has been practising in the UK thinks so. Today's Observer carries the following story:

'In seven years as an NHS neuropsychologist, [Janice] Newcomen has been so disgusted and upset by what she has seen that she is packing her bags and walking away. She says she can no longer bear to watch children and their families let down again and again. As a specialist who is supposed to provide help she says that she feels 'handcuffed', forced to accept hidden waiting lists, discrimination and constant cost cutting. She says she is officially prevented from making recommendations that could safeguard children's futures.'

I can feel a Viewpoint article brewing but I don't yet have a view. If anyone does, we would be delighted to hear from you; I have a sense that this is not going to go away...

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