HC Deb 09 May 1960 vol 623 cc21-2
32. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health what progress has been made during the past five and 10 years, respectively, in decreasing the number of mental defectives in the county of Essex who are awaiting appropriate institutional accommodation; in particular, to what extent staffs for this purpose have increased; and what is the average period elapsing between medical recognition of the need of institutional care for mental defective cases and their admission to the institutions.

Miss Pitt

The Essex waiting lists were 222, 357, and 353 at the end of 1949, 1954, 1959, respectively. During the same period, 563 additional beds were opened in this region; a further 170 will be opened as soon as staffed; and the nursing staff increased by 234. Figures for average waiting time are not available.

Mr. Sorensen

Does not the hon. Lady realise that the actual position seems to be worse than it was ten years ago, in spite of all that has been attempted? Can she say whether some special effort is now being made to try to match up with the appalling waiting list, which is inflicting a great deal of misery upon patients and homes?

Miss Pitt

There are more beds and more nurses, as the figures which I have given show, but the need seems to have increased at the same time. Steps are being taken. The Essex County Council, as the local health authority, is making a start this year with the provision of hostel accommodation for mentally disordered persons not needing hospital care. Its new proposals for providing a mental health service undertake to meet the needs of such persons in the course of time, and a review can follow after we know what steps are being taken.