HC Deb 13 June 1972 vol 838 cc1250-1
21. Mrs. Doris Fisher

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to ensure that persons confined in hospitals for the mentally ill include only those suited to be there.

25. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied that all hospital patients originally committed to institutions under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, will now have their cases reviewed; and if he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

Less than 7 per cent, of all patients in psychiatric hospitals are compulsorily detained and they have rights of application to mental health review tribunals. There are large numbers of other patients there from the time when these hospitals were expected to provide residential as well as medical and nursing care. Only as residential accommodation in the community is increased will there be alternative homes for many whose real need is for residential care.

Mrs. Fisher

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. Is not the problem of trying to empty these hospitals so that they can do their real job in the treatment of mental illness the responsibility of the Government? This situation will not be resolved by passing the buck to local authorities.

Sir K. Joseph

I sympathise with the hon. Lady's attitude, but the fact is that both parties in the House have regarded local authorities as deserving autonomy in the way that they spend large sums of ratepayers' money as well as taxpayers' money. We have every evidence that local authorities are taking seriously this new task on their shoulders. I hope that when the 10-year plans are produced, and in due course published, the country will be satisfied that the progress in making good an immense backlog is as fast as we can expect.

Dr. Summerskill

I appreciate the difficulties of rehabilitating these patients in the community, but would the right hon. Gentleman, nevertheless, review all cases of patients who were confined in institutions under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913?

Sir K. Joseph

About 35,000 of the patients now in psychiatric hospitals were originally admitted to them under the Mental Deficiency Acts. Only about 1,000 of these, however, were still detained compulsorily at the end of 1970. All the rest are free to go, if there were anywhere for them to go.

Mrs. Knight

As well as making sure that no persons are confined in mental homes who ought to be outside them, will my right hon. Friend take steps to ensure that some of those who ought to be in mental homes are placed in them, bearing in mind the horrible tragedy of the deaths of three children recently in Liverpool?

An Hon. Member


Sir K. Joseph

Yes. My hon. Friend has raised a real worry, particularly in connection with the case of the man in Gloucestershire, about which hon. Members will have read in the newspapers. But there are very few barriers to the admission of people who need hospital care in this sort of hospital. I take my hon. Friend's question very seriously.

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