HC Deb 13 February 1956 vol 548 cc2074-5
57 and 58. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether he has now studied the facts placed before him by the deputations from eleven management committees of mental hospitals in the Manchester and Liverpool regions which he received on 17th January; and what action he intends to take to meet their difficulties;

(2) when he proposes to visit mental hospitals in the North-West in order to study at first hand the difficulties with which the mental hospitals in the region are faced.

Mr. Turton

I have studied with care the facts placed before me by the deputation, and I am proposing to visit some of the mental and mental deficiency hospitals in the Liverpool and Manchester regions at the earliest possible opportunity to see something of their problems at first hand.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that Answer will give no kind of comfort to the area, because the situation is so urgent that the right hon. Gentleman should have come to the House this afternoon and said, "I am going next week"? Is he not aware that the earliest possible opportunity from his point of view may not be the earliest desirable opportunity from the point of view of the staffs and management committees who are dealing with a really desperate situation in the area, and who appealed to him for immediate action a month ago and had nothing from him since?

Mr. Turton

As I hope to go this week, it would be unwise to say that I am going next week.

Dr. Summerskill

Is it not unfortunate that it will go out to the North that the Minister has treated this matter lightly? Is he aware that this is a very serious matter, and that the trouble has been caused as a direct result of the strain to which these mental nurses have been exposed for many years? When the Minister goes to the North, will he not only go to mental deficiency hospitals, but realise that although mental deficiency hospitals have difficulties, they are not commensurate with those experienced in the mental hospitals? Will he assure the House that he will go to mental hospitals as well?

Mr. Turton

There is no question of treating this matter lightly. I said last week that I regarded it as of deep concern. I have said today that I have studied the matter with care. As the right hon. Lady knows, it is not easy for a Minister to spend a lot of time visiting hospitals. I am trying to get around as much as possible. This week I am going to one mental hospital and one mental deficiency hospital in the Manchester region.