HC Deb 18 July 1955 vol 544 cc18-9
28. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health the number of persons in England and Wales who, during 1952 and 1953, were certified as of unsound mind and admitted to involuntary detention in mental hospitals on Summary Reception Orders made under Sections 14 and 16 of the Lunacy Act, 1890, as amended by the National Health Service Act, 1946; and what proportion of these were admitted directly into mental hospitals, and what proportion after an intermediary period in the mental observation ward of a general hospital.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Certified patients admitted to mental hospitals during 1952 and 1953 totalled 20,297 and 20,579, respectively. Of these totals the proportions admitted following a period of observation in a general hospital were respectively 16.92 and 15.69 per cent.

Dr. Johnson

Is not my right hon. Friend aware from his figures that the majority of the large number of admissions under this Section are direct into mental hospitals and only a minority are through the intermediary mental observation wards, and is not he aware of the statement made by a number of prominent medical psychiatrists that, despite the warnings of the last Royal Commission, the certification of people suffering from temporary delirium and their consequent detention in mental hospitals is still taking place?

Mr. Macleod

The exact terms of my hon. Friend's original Question asked for those who spent an intermediate period in the mental observation wards of a general hospital. There are, of course, in addition a great number of patients who spend a period in the mental observation wards of mental hospitals, which would put rather a different complexion on the figures which I have had to give him, and that is a proportion which I should like to see increased.

Mr. K. Robinson

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is considerable difference of opinion among those professionally concerned in this problem about the whole desirability of observation wards? Would the right hon. Gentleman look into this aspect of the problem and perhaps consider the setting up of a Departmental committee of inquiry?

Mr. Macleod

There is a difference of opinion about almost everything in connection with this and almost every other matter in the Health Service, and I cannot undertake to set up Departmental committees into all of them.