HC Deb 22 November 1954 vol 533 cc772-5
29. Mr. Wade

asked the Minister of Health what progress he has to report on the provision of adequate accommodation for patients in mental hospitals.

Mr. Iain Macleod

About 5,000 additional beds in mental and mental deficiency hospitals have been provided since 1948. Capital works authorised but not yet completed will provide another 7,000.

Mr. Wade

In view of the reports of overcrowding, particularly since the recent publication of the Hospitals Year Book, can the Minister say how widespread is the overcrowding and whether the main problem is lack of accommodation or lack of staff?

Mr. Macleod

It is probably both. If the hon. Member would like details about different regions, perhaps he will put a Question down, but he will see from the answer I have given that the position is getting a good deal better. Although we have provided only 5,000 beds in the last six years, we now have no less than 7,000 in the pipeline

Mr. K. Robinson

Is the Minister aware that in many hospitals overcrowding has occasioned a waiting list of voluntary patients? Does he not think it most unfortunate that now that we have persuaded the public to accept the principle of voluntary admission, we now have to ask patients to wait to be admitted?

Mr. Macleod

I entirely agree. That is by far the most distressing part of overcrowding in mental hospitals.

46. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Health if he is satisfied that, within the limits of their capital resources and having regard to the needs of other branches of the hospital service, regional hospital boards are making a sufficient proportionate allocation of capital to mental deficiency hospitals.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I have no reason to think that boards are failing to do this.

Mr. Collins

Is the Minister aware that in many of the older mentally deficient institutions there are arrears of maintenance from before 1948 with which it is impossible to catch up, and when he is considering future possible special allocations, will he have regard not merely to the need to provide additional accommodation, but for something special to meet this need for extra maintenance which, in the long run, will result in the saving of money?

Mr. Macleod

I will take that matter into account when I make my calculations.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Would my right hon. Friend ask the hon. Gentleman to rewrite his Question in the hope that it may be put down next time in better English?

Mr. Snow

Is the Minister satisfied that the facilities offered by such organisations as the Marlborough Day Hospital in London are well known to regional hospital boards, since these facilities can provide great economy and a great alleviation of unhappiness among patients and their relatives?

Mr. Macleod

That and other interesting experiments, I am quite certain, are well known to psychiatrists and others who have this particular responsibility in the region.

48. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health if he will estimate how much money will be available within the Mental Million Scheme for 1955–56 for new capital developments not yet authorised; and how much will be needed to finance the carry-over of developments already authorised and started in the current financial year.

Mr. Iain Macleod

About £1.3 million will be required in 1955–56 for schemes authorised under the "Mental Million" programme in 1954–55. It will not be possible to start any new projects under these arrangements in 1955–56.

Mr. Robinson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a very disappointing answer, in view of the fact that the implication of the reply that he gave in July was that there would be another £1 million available for new schemes in the current year? Cannot he look into this unhappy position again, and possibly consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Macleod

As my answer indicates, we are going to spend more than £1 million next year, just as we are spending almost £1 million this year on these schemes. Quite apart from that, there are the normal allocations from the regional hospital boards, and in addition there are large schemes like those at Greaves Hall, Southport, and Balderton which are being financed centrally by myself.

Mr. Chapman

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether in Birmingham, where the figures of the work being done and authorised are well below the target set, he can do anything to get the whole matter speeded up?

Mr. Macleod

The fact—whether it be the fault of my Department or of Birmingham—that the Birmingham expenditure at the moment is below this allocation does not mean that Birmingham will lose any of it. It merely means that it is going to be extended into next year.

49. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health the present accommodation for mentally deficient children in Warwickshire; what are the numbers awaiting entry into institutions at the latest convenient date; and what are his plans for increasing the present accommodation.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Seven hundred and eighty beds are provided in the area of the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board as a whole, but none is specially reserved for Warwickshire children. On 17th November, 58 children from the administrative county were awaiting admission. It is hoped that work will shortly begin on a scheme to provide one 50-bedded ward wholly for mentally deficient children and on another scheme to provide two 50-bedded wards, part of which will be available for mentally defective children.

Mr. Johnson

Will the right hon. Gentleman help the county council in this matter in every way possible? Is he aware that in cases where admittance is refused, the home conditions are worsened and the health of the mothers, of course, deteriorates?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, I quite agree, and I should be delighted to consult the county council on any details.