§ Mr. Iain Macleod
One of my catering advisers visited two of the hospitals concerned last year, and the third has recently been investigated by the catering adviser to the regional hospital board.
§ Mr. Dodds
Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that, when I asked Questions before, he mentioned the 26s. per patient allowed in general hospitals but could not give any figure for the mental hospitals? Is he aware that there is deep concern that in the mental hospitals in the Dartford area the food is totally inadequate for people sick in mind but healthy in body? Can the hon. Member for Dartford be allowed to see some of the meals without his visit being announced in advance?
§ Mr. Macleod
I should be very ready to help the hon. Member on the last point. Perhaps we can have a word about that. So far as the amounts in the mental hospitals are concerned, it is because the board was concerned at the low charge in the Bexley Hospital that it ordered the most recent inquiry which is taking place this week, and to which I have referred. There are special reasons why the cost per patient—the cost per head, because it includes the staff as well—is very much lower than in other hospitals, the two main ones being the very large number of patients and the relative absence of special diets.