HC Deb 26 April 1951 vol 487 cc556-7
22. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Minister of Health the total number of mentally defective persons at present awaiting vacancies in institutions; to what extent this number is increasing; and what steps are being taken to deal with this matter.

Mr. Marquand

According to returns made by local health authorities on 1st January, 1951, there were 5,316 mental defectives awaiting admission to institutions. There is no reason to think that the proportion of mental defectives is increasing, but the number increases yearly with the population. Provision for these patients receives high priority in the hospital service, within the limits of capital investment and staff available.

Mr. Shepherd

Is the right hon. Gentleman able to say when those urgently in need of institutional care will receive it?

Mr. Marquand

I should not like to make a forecast, but we are doing all we can, and the regional hospital boards are being asked to devote special attention to this difficult problem.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the Minister aware that 64 people of low grade mental deficiency——

Sir Waldron Smithers

On the Government Front Bench.

Mrs. Braddock

—are waiting at home in the Liverpool area, and that only one vacancy has been offered by the regional board in 12 months? These cases are usually dangerous cases in the home, and are causing great concern to parents and others who look after them.

Mr. Marquand

I am sure that my hon. Friend will use her influence with the regional board to see that they do all they can in the matter.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the reasons why there are now more mental defectives and more certified lunatics in the country than there were before the Socialist Government came into power?

Mr. Marquand

I have already said that, unfortunately, the proportion remains roughly constant and that when the total population increases the number of mental defectives increases, too.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

Is it possible for the inmates to resign if they feel so disposed?

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