HC Deb 23 March 1976 vol 908 cc178-9
2. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is satisfied with arrangements within her Department for monitoring cases of chronic schizophrenia and psychopathic disorders which cannot be treated within the resources of area health authorities.

The Minister of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Dr. David Owen)

No, Sir, though I am well aware of the difficulties. There is a shortage of suitable—including secure—accommodation as well as considerable uncertainty about the extent to which people with personality disorders can be effectively treated in psychiatric hospitals.

Mr. Whitehead

Is my hon. Friend aware of the particularly tragic case of a constituent of mine who would get such a place only after committing an act of violence? Can my hon. Friend say what arrangements are under way for the establishment of regional secure units in the Trent Regional Hospital Authority area, and what interim arrangements can be made until such units are established?

Dr. Owen

All regional health authorities are currently looking at their capital programmes and revenue support. They were only recently advised by my Department that we shall both capital fund and revenue fund regional secure units. I hope we shall have proposals from the Trent area and I shall write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Moonman

Can my hon. Friend go a little further? This is a critical matter. What secure units will be established in East London and Essex?

Dr. Owen

I recognise the concern of many hon. Members about this matter. We have been urging regional health authorities to provide these units for some time, but they have felt that there are complex planning arrangements to get through and there has also been some professional disagreement and some anxieties about the place of these units. I think the authoritative backing of the Butler Report on the value of the units and the fact that the Department will fund them should result in more rapid progress than we have seen in the past. I shall write to my hon. Friend about the particular problem of Essex.