HC Deb 07 March 1955 vol 538 c10
16. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Health if he will arrange for an investigation to be held to ascertain the extent to which expenditure in respect of food for patients and staff in mental hospitals in the Dartford district enables adequate and suitably varied diets to be provided.

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.