HC Deb 26 March 1956 vol 550 cc1770-1
43. Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

asked the Minister of Health what steps he proposes to take to overcome the understaffing in mental hospitals and to reduce the overcrowding of patients.

Mr. Turton

As regards efforts to overcome the shortage of staff, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) on 31st October last. To reduce overcrowding, as much capital money as possible is being devoted to the needs of these hospitals.

Mr. Mallalieu

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some male nurses in Bracebridge Heath Hospital, near Lincoln, in my constituency, work 76 hours a week and that 800 man-hours a week have been worked? Will the Minister put some greater urgency into the solution of this problem than has hitherto been shown?

Mr. Turton

The hon. and learned Member very kindly wrote to me on this matter. Therefore, I was aware from his letter of the facts which he has now mentioned. The improvement of conditions for nurses in mental hospitals is being studied urgently all the time. Our present programme will relieve overcrowding very considerably.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Has the right hon. Gentleman had his attention drawn to correspondence from the Confederation of Health Service Employees, which organises male workers in mental hospitals and is putting specific proposals before him?

Mr. Turton

I shall be seeing that organisation in the near future.

Dr. Johnson

Will my right hon. Friend look into the development of domiciliary services with a view to solving this problem of overcrowding by a means for which no additional legislation is really necessary?

Mr. Turton

I agree that that is part of the problem.