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Personality Disorders

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 10 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the number of people in England who have a severe personality disorder; how many are receiving treatment; what treatments are available and in how many centres; and what estimate he has made of the effectiveness of treatments; (177198)

(2) what estimate he has made of the proportion of those with severe personality disorder that are a danger (a) to themselves and (b) to others.

Personality disorders (PDs) are common conditions, although there is a considerable variation in severity, and in the degree of distress and dysfunction caused. The Department does not hold the requested information centrally, but research studies currently indicate a prevalence of 10 to 13 per cent. of the adult population in the community. The incidence in the sentenced prison population is around 64 per cent. for men and 50 per cent. for women. Estimates of the prevalence of personality disorders in psychiatric hospital populations vary between 36 to 67 per cent.

The treatment of patients with personality disorders is increasing through the development of new PD services in line with the implementation of “Managing Dangerous Offenders with a Severe Personality Disorder (1999), Personality Disorder; No Longer a Diagnosis of Exclusion” (2004) and the Mental Health Act 2007. The development of effective services for those most a risk to the public is being piloted through the Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder (DSPD) programme which is a joint venture between the Department and the Ministry of Justice.

The number of people in England with a severe PD who are a significant risk to other people is currently estimated as being between 3,000-5,000. The DSPD programme provides assessment, treatment and management in conditions of high and medium security as well as in community residential and outreach services.

In respect of all those people with a PD who are no risk to others it is intended that the provision of treatment and support for this patient population will be through the growth of PD appropriate services within mainstream mental health services. Services for this patient group have been piloted and evaluated in each region of England through the Department's PD programme and are now devolved to the national health service for wider development by primary care trusts at a local level. While there is no accurate estimate of the numbers of patients overall treated in the NHS over 1,500 patients with PD have been treated in the non forensic PD pilot services to date.