HC Deb 09 December 1963 vol 686 cc22-3
19. Sir B. Janner

asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that there is sufficient hospital accommodation for permanently mentally sick cases of young people under the age of 18; and what are his proposals for making good the shortage.

Mr. Barber

There is a shortage of special accommodation; the Standing Mental Health Advisory Committee, which was asked to examine this problem, has recently reported to me and I shall soon be issuing advice to regional hospital boards.

Sir B. Janner

Is it not an understatement merely to say that there is a shortage? Is it not true to say that there is no room at all and that only if a parent can afford £17 a week for a child do the facilities exist? Will the Minister see that the matter is hurried up, firstly because of the serious nature of this matter and, secondly, because the lack of room has caused considerable trouble, particularly in court cases, where no facilities have been found for children of this description?

Mr. Barber

I will certainly do everything I can to hurry it up. Indeed, the advice which is to be given to regional hospital boards—within a couple of weeks or so, I hope—will suggest interim targets based on current knowledge we have of needs.

Mr. A. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that the very progressive West Ham Borough Council will next year open the finest hospital for mentally handicapped children in the world and that the council will be calling it the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital? Will the right hon. Gentleman encourage other local authorities to follow the good example of West Ham Borough Council, which happens to be Labour-controlled?

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