HC Deb 16 July 1969 vol 787 cc601-2
28. Sir M. Galpern

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proportion of patients in Scotland is in mental hospitals at the latest convenient date; and how this figure compares with the average for the last five years.

Mr. Millan

The average number of patients in mental hospitals during the year to 31st March, 1968, represented 33.01 per cent. of the average number of patients in all hospitals; the average during the five years to 31st March, 1967, was 34.16 per cent. If mental deficiency hospitals are included, the figures are 44.52 per cent. and 44.76 per cent.

Sir M. Galpern

Would my hon. Friend agree that these figures are disturbing? Would he ascribe the very high percentage of inmates in mental hospitals to the increased alcoholic drinking habits of the people and the strains and stresses of the ever-quickening pace of modern living? What steps have been taken to investigate this very serious illness among the population in Scotland?

Mr. Millan

The figures has not increased proportionately; they have remained about the same. The numbers of patients being admitted to mental hospitals with a diagnosis of alcoholism have gone up and they now represent about a quarter of all male mental hospital admissions. This is a very worrying factor indeed. A good deal is being done in the health education and other fields on this problem.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Would not the hon. Member agree that one of the reasons for the high figures is that so many beds in these hospitals are full of geriatric patients simply because there is nowhere else for them to go? Would he agree that the figures could be substantially reduced if we concentrated on making proper provision for geriatric patients?

Mr. Millan

The provision of geriatric beds in the hospital service has been very substantially increased in the last few years. The effort of local authorities on community services for mental deficiency has increased very considerably in recent years. But the total numbers and the proportion are not increasing. That does not mean that we are happy that we have the right balance between hospital and community provision. I should like to see the balance tilted towards the latter rather more than it is.