§ 31 and 32. Mr. Norman Dodds
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware (1) of the concern caused by the decision of the South-West Metropolitan Regional Board controlling over 300 hospitals to spend no more than 21s. a week on feeding each patient, at a time of rising prices, and, in view of this, if he will take steps to have this amount increased;
(2) of the action of the South-West Metropolitan Board in cutting to 14s. a week the maximum amount to be spent on food for each mental patient under its jurisdiction and if he will ensure that no economy measures are made at the expense of the patient's diet.
§ Mr. Crookshank
I am informed that the Board have asked management committees, in preparing their estimates for the next financial year, to regard as maxima for their groups certain figures of expenditure on provisions based on averages in the region. In addition they have warned committees to take account of possible price rises in framing their estimates. This is an interim measure pending a further detailed investigation into the costs of provisions and, on the information at present available, I see no reason to intervene.
§ Mr. Dodds
Is the right hon. hon. Gentleman not aware that several catering officers in London hospitals say that it is impossible to do the job properly at a cost of 21s., and can we have the assurance that we are not going to return to the days when patients depended upon their visitors for essential foods? Further, would the right hon. Gentleman inform the Regional Board that to be a mental patient does not imply that one has not a healthy appetite?
§ Mr. Crookshank
I am quite sure that the regional boards are cognisant of that 413 fact; but the position will be reviewed by the Board when the results of detailed investigations are known.