HC Deb 19 March 1953 vol 513 cc201-2
27. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health what special capital allocation he is making for the coming financial year to meet the needs of the mental hospitals.

Mr. Iain Macleod

It is for regional hospital boards to decide what particular projects shall be included in their capital programmes, but I have again asked them to devote at least 20 per cent. of their allocations to mental health projects. In addition, two major mental health schemes are being financed from a special central reserve.

Mr. Robinson

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the mental hospitals of this country are grossly overcrowded, that most of the buildings are hopelessly out of date and unsuitable, that these conditions are placing an intolerable strain upon the staffs and are hindering recruiting, and that 20 per cent. of the present very small capital allocation is quite insufficient? Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the matter again?

Mr. Macleod

Of course, this is probably the most serious problem facing the National Health Service, and it is precisely for that reason that I insisted upon the minimum figure that I have given. The position would have been a great deal easier if, in the first year or two of the Health Service, a larger proportion of resources had been devoted to the mental field.

36. Mr. Palmer

asked the Minister of Health to give particulars of the provision he is making for capital expenditure on mental hospital development to relieve the badly overcrowded conditions in the Newcastle region.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The regional hospital board propose to spend in the next financial year about £200,000, almost half of their total net allocation, on developments at mental and mental deficiency hospitals. Of this sum, over half will be to provide new accommodation for patients.

Mr. Palmer

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that this expenditure will go some way towards meeting the pressing needs of this area?

Mr. Macleod

This area has very grievous problems in this field, of which I saw something a week or two ago, but within the limits of the amount I can give them they are making a generous allocation to the mental hospitals, and rather more than £100,000 is being given to new accommodation in this field.

Mr. Marquand

When considering the problem of the division of capital allocation between mental and other kinds of hospital accommodation, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that during the first years of the Health Service there was the enormous task of rebuilding the bomb-damaged hospitals, so that the comparison he made earlier is scarcely a fair one?

Mr. Macleod

On the contrary, it is entirely fair. We cannot discuss this matter by Question and answer, but if we come to debate these matters, it will be interesting to see the different percentage allocated to the mental field in 1948–49 and this year.

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