HC Deb 12 March 1956 vol 550 cc11-2
22. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that, despite recent improvements, the average capital expenditure per patient in teaching and general hospitals in 1954–55 was nearly three times as great as the capital expenditure in mental hospitals and mental deficiency institutions; and if, in order to relieve overcrowding and prevent a possible breakdown in the service, he will instruct regional boards that, in future, not less than 40 per cent. of their capital allocation must be used for the maintenance, improvement, and development of mental hospitals and mental deficiency institutions.

Mr. Turton

Whilst I agree that there is an urgent need for more capital expenditure on mental and mental deficiency hospitals there is no particular reason why the number of patients in hospitals of various kinds should provide a reliable method for calculating the amount of capital expenditure needed. Regional hospital boards are well aware of the need to devote as much capital money as possible to mental and mental deficiency hospitals and I have every confidence in the way they are tackling the problem.

Mr. Collins

While agreeing that the number of patients is not the only guide for an allocation of capital, may I ask whether the Minister would agree that as there are 42 per cent. of mental patients in the total number of hospital beds, there ought to have been a larger capital allocation than 25 per cent., particularly as there is such a huge backlog of vitally necessary schemes which cannot be put into operation? Will the Minister say how he proposes that there should be provision for better accommodation for nurses if he does not give the regional boards some more definite guidance in this matter?

Mr. Turton

In order to deal with the problem we have already introduced the "mental million," as a result of which sums amounting to £2½ million have been allocated. Then there is the special allocation of £1½ million over the 1956–57–58 period, for modernisation. In addition, major projects selected for central financing in mental and mental deficiency hospitals will involve the expenditure of over £10 million.