HC Deb 06 April 1971 vol 815 cc233-5
17. Mrs. Shirley Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to publish a White Paper on the mentally handicapped; and what steps he is taking at present to improve overcrowding, dietary levels, and the provision of personal clothing in hospitals for the mentally handicapped.

Sir K. Joseph

I have confirmed the request made by my predecessor to regional hospital boards to effect in all hospitals for the mentally handicapped a wide range of improvements including those referred to by the hon. Member. Additional money has been provided, and guidance on these particular matters has been issued or is under consideration. I expect to issue a general policy document within the next two to three months.

Mrs. Williams

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that answer. I am sure that he appreciates the urgency of issuing a general policy document, since morale among the staff of hospitals of this kind is of crucial importance. May we take it that he will bring forward that document at the earliest possible moment?

Sir K. Joseph

Yes, Sir.

Mrs. Knight

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind also the problem of the mentally handicapped who are not in hospital and whose need is as great as, if not greater than, the need of those who have the fortune to be in hospital?

Sir K. Joseph

The Government have very much in mind the pressure on parents and relatives who are looking after mentally handicapped persons at home and who are not yet receiving the full range of services to which, ideally, they should have access. This will be covered in the policy guidance, and it is all part of the field for which we have provided extra money.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the document which the right hon. Gentleman is to issue be substantially the same as that which he found on his desk when he took office'? In view of the need for discussion on the restructuring of the Health Service, on the second consultative document which is due to come out, will he make a statement about how this is to be co-ordinated with the general provisions of the rest of the Health Service, apart from the mentally handicapped?

Sir K. Joseph

The principles of the document will be much the same as in that which I found. With no disrespect to my predecessor, who initiated most valuable action in relation to the mentally handicapped, I should say that the great difference will be that we have found extra money, both for the local authorities and for the hospital service, for help to the mentally handicapped.