HC Deb 09 May 1972 vol 836 cc1107-8
5. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will cause additional studies to be made into the causes and cure of agoraphobia; and whether he will provide appropriate finance.

Mr. Alison

My Department is able and prepared to consider proposals for research related to the provision of services for psychiatric disorders, including phobias, within its normal research programme.

Mr. Janner

I thank the Minister for that Answer. Is he aware that more than a quarter of a million people suffer from this sad and disabling disease and that more than 10,000 are totally disabled? Will he specifically undertake to devote resources to the diagnosis and cure of this particular unhappy and almost forgotten area of mental illness?

Mr. Alison

I share the profound sympathy which the hon. and learned Gentleman has expressed for those who suffer from agoraphobia. A good deal of work is going on. The hon. and learned Gentleman will presently get information about it in answer to another Question which he has down. I believe that the facilities which exist, either through general practitioners treating patients at home or in the ordinary psychiatric departments of hospitals, are adequate at present.

Mr. Russell Kerr

Is the Minister prepared to use the publicity facilities of his Department to make local councils and other authorities aware of the facilities which exist? I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that this is a greatly under-publicised affliction which could do with some publicity by the Department.

Mr. Alison

Though I am prepared to look sympathetically at what the hon. Gentleman said, I think that most sufferers from agoraphobia will have brought their condition to the notice of their general practitioners and, through them, to hospital departments. If publicity will help in this respect, we shall certainly consider it.