HC Deb 20 March 1967 vol 743 cc1042-3
9. Mr. Judd

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to prevent the deaths of elderly persons remaining undiscovered for long periods; and what official statistics he has on the number of bodies of elderly people found more than a week after their death in their homes during each of the last five years.

Mr. Snow

Regular visiting of the elderly is the best safeguard, and in most areas this is arranged by voluntary bodies with the support of the local authority. My right hon. Friend is considering whether the statutory powers of local authorities to help the elderly should be extended for this and other purposes. No official statistics are available on my hon. Friend's last point.

Mr. Judd

Would not my hon. Friend agree that there is reason to believe that the numbers in this category are alarmingly high, that they are a blot on the civilised standards of a modern nation, and that they indicate that we are still not devoting a big enough slice of the national economic cake for the welfare of the elderly?

Mr. Snow

I do not know about the numbers being very considerable. There were two, for instance, in Portsmouth over the last four years which came, broadly speaking, within the category about which my hon. Friend talks. My right hon. Friend has no power, nor have local authorities, of entry to discover whether elderly people are in need of help, but we shall bear that point in mind.

Mrs. Braddock

Is my hon. Friend aware that Liverpool has given a very great lead in this respect; and that if it were possible for the Minister to refer to the tremendous amount of good work our young people are doing in this connection, instead of giving all the publicity to anything bad they do, it would be very useful throughout the country?

Mr. Snow

I fully subscribe to what my hon. Friend has said. It will be a poor day when voluntary help in this and other connections is not given proper consideration. I should add, in this connection, that all voluntary committees should be very careful to inform local authority welfare departments of this sort of case.