HC Deb 15 November 1954 vol 533 cc27-9
48. Mr. Chapman

asked the Minister of Health if he will give a list of the mental hospitals in the Birmingham area, showing the extent of overcrowding, at the most convenient recent date.

Mr. Iain Macleod

As the answer contains a number of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Chapman

If, as is expected, the figures show a shocking degree of overcrowding, with beds one foot apart and with patients sleeping in dining rooms and, in some cases, practically on the floor, why did the Minister's Department take something like 14 to 16 months to approve plans for new building to expand the hospitals in Birmingham?

Mr. Macleod

That does not arise directly out of this Question. I have given the details of percentage overcrowding. Perhaps on a later Question of the hon. Member's we can cover the other point.

Mr. Shurmer

Is the Minister aware that on the committee on which I have sat for the last 30 years, we have quite a number of men who have been sleeping on the floor for over two years? [Laughter.] I meant to say that male patients have been sleeping on the floor for the past two years. There is plenty of room for erecting new buildings in the area of the Winson Green Mental Hospital. Will the Minister consider a proposal that will shortly be coming to him, which we discussed at the last committee meeting, asking for something to be done to provide accommodation? We are now in the position of having to refuse admission to the Winson Green Mental Hospital because of the considerable overcrowding, especially of the male patients' side.

Mr. Macleod

Of course, I will look at that proposal when it comes to me. I assume that it will come through the regional board. The hon. Member will, however, in fairness agree that I have made very special and careful provision for the needs of the mental health services in the last year or two.

Following is the answer:

Mental Hospitals Recognised bed-space in use on 1st January, 1954 Percentage over-crowding on 1st January, 1954
Winson Green 1,113 26.1
Rubery Hill 792 17.6
Burghill 608 8.9
Barnsley Hall 611 20.5
Powick 896 18.4
Central 988 42.6
Shelton 903 15.1
St. Georges 964 24.4
St. Matthews 999 24.7
St. Edwards 1,066 33.5
Hollymoor 634 11.5
Highcroft Hall *1,227 *26.8
* Overcrowding during daytime only.

49. Mr. Chapman

asked the Minister of Health how much of the special £1 million, allocated for spending by March, 1955, on increasing accommodation in mental hospitals, has been approved for spending on actual capital projects.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Building work estimated to cost a little under £1.4 million in all has been authorised, and I expect that expenditure of about £950,000 will be incurred in the current financial year.

50. Mr. Chapman

asked the Minister of Health what part of the special £1 million, allocated for spending on extra accommodation in mental hospitals, has been allocated to the Birmingham region; what part of this quota has now been approved for spending on capital projects, and at which hospitals; and for how long further projects have been under consideration by his Department.

Mr. Iain Macleod

It was originally contemplated that up to £90,000 of this special allocation might be spent in the Birmingham Region in 1954–55 but so far only one scheme, at Chelmsley Hospital, Marston Green, has been authorised, at a tendered cost of just under £35,000. Sketch plans for two other schemes were submitted early in January but the preparation of working drawings and bills of quantities for these has not yet been completed.

Mr. Chapman

How can the Minister say that there is any sense of urgency in his Department when, faced with the figures which he has been giving us about mental hospital overcrowding in Birmingham, schemes to alleviate the position have been in his Department since January? When will we get provision at Hollymoor Hospital, for example, to build more accommodation?

Mr. Macleod

The two other hospitals referred to, which have not yet been approved, are Stallington Hall and Central Hospital, Hatton. I cannot accept the implications of what the hon. Member says. There have been delays, which I do not like, but I could not accept responsibility for my Department for them. I would, however, like to make this clear to the Birmingham Region: the fact that only a certain amount of what we call the "mental million" allocation to Birmingham will be spent this year does not mean that Birmingham will lose this provision. It merely means that it will be extended into the next financial year. These schemes will still be done.

Mr. K. Robinson

How much of the next year's "mental million" will be available for new schemes over and above the continuation of the schemes authorised during the coming year?

Mr. Macleod

I think that nearly all of it will be taken up with the continuation of schemes, but perhaps the hon. Member had better put down a Question and I will give him details.