I do not think that the hon. Lady's suggestion would enable additional facilities to be provided for the care of the aged, since there is a general shortage of mental hospital accommodation as such.
§ Mrs. Mann
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that his recent replies to me reveal that the mental hospitals are accommodating 40 per cent. of patients who are over 60 years of age, and that, within the mental hospitals themselves, there appears to be a necessity for regrouping these elderly people? If they are not really lunatics, but merely senile, could the hon. and gallant Gentleman consider taking them away from the Board of Control?
That is another question, but the hon. Lady knows 1094 that I have every sympathy with the point she has in mind. At the present time, however, there is an acute shortage of mental hospital accommodation as such.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot
Will my hon. and gallant Friend bear equally in mind the fact that the segregation of elderly people may do great harm to their eventual chances of recovery, and that nothing could be more fatal than to create some sort of dump in which these people are placed?
§ 40. Mr. A. C. Manuel
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of aged and chronic sick awaiting admission to hospital in the county of Ayr; and the average waiting period.
The number of chronic sick at present awaiting admission to hospital in the County of Ayr is 63. The average waiting period is about six months for men and six weeks for women.
§ Mr. Manuel
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware from the figures which he has given—the waiting period is indicated—that the problem can only be cleared up in Ayrshire by the provision of a new hospital for this type of case? As an interim measure will he consult the regional hospital board about the problem to see if there can be some rearrangement of the beds which are available in order to create more space for the old people who are at present having to wait so long?
The regional hospital board is considering how accommodation can be adjusted to improve the situation in Ayrshire.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore
Can my hon. and gallant Friend say how long this situation has existed?
§ Mr. Manuel
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the regional hospital board has been considering the problem for a number of years? Will he do something to hurry up the provision of the accommodation which is so urgently needed?