HC Deb 10 March 1958 vol 584 cc3-5
5. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health how many psychiatrists of each grade, in whole-time equivalents, were in post in the mental hospitals of England and Wales at the latest date for which figures are available; how many established posts in each grade were unfilled; how many patients were in residence at that date; and if he will produce the same information for the mental deficiency hospitals.

Mr. Walker-Smith

As the reply involves a number of figures, I 'will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I regret that precise information about the number of posts that are unfilled is not available.

Following are the figures:

—— Mental Illness Departments(2) Mental Deficiency Departments
Number of Patients in residence(3) 150,984 53,519
Medical Staff in post(4)(5) in whole-time equivalents 1,330 205
Consultants 423 66
S.H.M.Os. 276 54
Senior Registrars 101 5
Registrars 218 23
J.H.M.Os 217 53
Senior House Officers 95 4
(1) Including beds in mental and mental deficiency hospitals and in special departments of other hospitals.
(2) Including child guidance and child psychiatry.
(3) Estimated from average daily bed occupation during 1956.
(4) At 31st December, 1956.
(5) The figures exclude house officers and general practitioners who cannot be related to specialist departments.

23. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health if he will initiate discussions with the teaching hospitals, the Royal Colleges and the Institute of Psychiatry on the urgent need to train more psychiatrists.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The question whether there is a need for more training posts in psychiatry and other specialties will shortly be discussed with representatives of the profession.

Mr. Robinson

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that I am very glad to have that answer? Will he not agree that the key to this serious shortage of psychiatrists lies in the teaching hospitals, and that some initiative will have to be made, probably by himself and his Department, in order to overcome the highly conservative nature of medical curricula in this respect?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I would not like the hon. Gentleman or the House to take an unduly pessimistic view of this matter. I am glad to say that the intake to the senior registrar grade in psychology is actually larger than to any other specialty, and has recently been further increased. There has also been a substantial increase in the number of registrars to the extent of 39 per cent. between 1953 and 1956.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman at least say that he will do nothing to prevent new appointments where these are desired to be made by regional hospital boards?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I do not think that point arises out of the Question on the Order Paper.