HC Deb 21 February 1973 vol 851 cc466-7
20. Mr. Brewis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is satisfied with the present arrangements for the transferring from the State hospital at Carstairs of patients who need further treatment before release; and whether he will set aside a semi-custodial wing in an existing hospital to care for such patients.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The present arrangements work well in most cases but a few patients, in the absence of suitable vacancies, have been awaiting transfer for fairly long periods, especially to mental deficiency hospitals. I do not think such patients should be transferred to a custodial wing in a single hospital. They are more appropriately catered for by medium security provision in National Health Service hospitals where they can be rehabilitated nearer their homes.

Mr. Brewis

May I first express my regret that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education is not here to answer this Question? I am sure we all hope that he will soon be back with us. Will my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture pass on to him my view that there is a serious problem here at the moment? I thank my hon. Friend for his answer.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's interest in this matter, and I will pass his condolences to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education. This is a difficult problem. We are worried about these delays. In certain hospital board areas—for example, in the West region—greater provision is being made to meet the problem.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman ask his colleague the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education to look at the length of time spent by patients in Carstairs, and perhaps he will look at the proposition that the imposition of unlimited time commitment of patients might be leading to treatment being less successful?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

This is a rather different question. I shall take note of it and look into it.

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