HC Deb 27 May 1957 vol 571 cc19-21
29. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the manifest disadvantages of court action for cases of this nature, he will introduce legislation to establish suitable independent committees of appeal for the ready access of those who consider themselves to have been unjustly certified and detained under the Lunacy Act and have substantive evidence to produce to that effect, and whose primary object is to show a clean bill of health.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. J. K. Vaughan-Morgan)

I think that we should await consideration of the Report of the Royal Commission on the law relating to mental illness, which is expected to be published on Wednesday.

Dr. Johnson

While welcoming the imminence of this Report, may I ask my hon. Friend if he is fully aware of how any threat of legislation in cases of certification of this kind does colour the outlook of all concerned, and in the event of there being any recommendation in this respect in the Royal Commission's Report, will my hon. Friend look upon its implementation as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

I would rather have a look at the Report before I answer that Question.

30. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that, as a consequence of the South-West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board experiment in domiciliary psychiatry in the Worthing area, the admissions to mental hospital in that area have decreased from 166 in the first quarter of 1956 to 64 in the first quarter of 1957; and, in view of the urgent need to relieve the present overcrowding in mental hospitals throughout the country, how soon he will be extending a similar service to the remainder of the country.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Dennis Vosper)

I am aware of this experimental scheme, which resembles other schemes in operation elsewhere in this country in reducing the number of admissions to mental hospitals. Its early results are promising, and I will watch its progress with interest, but it is too early to come to a final conclusion about it.

Dr. Johnson

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this is the simplest and most effective way of curing the overcrowding in mental hospitals, and will he, when coming to a conclusion on the subject, expedite matters so as to introduce these experiments on the widest base possible?

Mr. Vosper

I have studied this scheme. I think it is most promising, but I am sure that its authors would be the first to agree that it needs more time before we can be quite certain as to its results.

Dr. Summerskill

Can the Minister say whether there are enough psychiatrists in the country to provide a domiciliary psychiatric service?

Mr. Vosper

It would not be possible to establish a scheme like this in every area of the country immediately, but, if successful, and if the Royal Commission recommends an extension, most certainly we will do what we can about it.