A group of psychiatrists and mental health staff from many of the new entrants to the European Community and from candidate countries as well as from the UK met in Luton, Bedfordshire on 17 and 18 September 2004 to discuss early intervention in psychotic illness. At the end of the conference, the delegates discussed the issues raised by Andrej Marušič (2004) in the Journal.
The delegates recognised that there were indeed many disparities in the mental health of the populations of the different member and candidate states of the European Union, and that mental health provision in the different states was very diverse. In particular, they noted that the research profile of many of the newer states of the European Union required improvement, and there was need for major development work and investment in many states if they were to provide adequate and effective community-based psychiatric services to all people of the Union.
The achievement of such goals will require much sharing of experience and ideas. The delegates were anxious to contribute to the development of modern community based psychiatric services in Europe and have committed themselves to future cooperation in the development of such services. They are willing to form a network to support each other's projects.
These endeavours could include collaboration through joint research projects, joint training schemes for both medical and non-medical staff, exchange schemes and visits, both long- and short-term, to share knowledge and expertise, developing joint protocols for the diagnosis of illness and patient management, twinning of services from different countries, developing psychosocial and family interventions for patients, sharing epidemiological information from case registers, and holding an annual conference, as well as joint meetings on particular issues of mutual interest. We hope that such activities could be funded by existing European Union programmes. It is proposed that this group of colleagues be known as the Luton group, after the place where the conference was held. A secretariat based at the Bedfordshire Centre for Mental Health Research in Association with the University of Cambridge will coordinate the group. We would welcome any communication from colleagues with similar interests.
EDITED BY KHALIDA ISMAIL