HC Deb 21 July 1977 vol 935 cc1839-40
15. Mr. Kilfedder

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the amount of financial resources which has been devoted for the provision of geriatric beds in the present and the next following financial years.

Mr. Carter

It is planned to spent £1,416,000 this financial year and £1,104,000 next year on new geriatric beds and the upgrading of existing ones. Large sums are, of course, spent annually on the maintenance of existing facilities, but the accounts are not kept in a way that enables geriatric costs to be separately identified.

Mr. Kilfedder

Although this question of geriatric beds was ridiculed by United Ulster Unionist Council Members behind me, who wish to keep this Government in office, none the less that answer proves that I am right in seeking to get this Government out of office. It is a disgraceful situation in Northern Ireland—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman may be quite correct, but he must ask a question.

Mr. Kilfedder

Will the Minister now take action to remedy the situation? Only last week four elderly persons, whose doctors said that they should be admitted to hospital as a matter of priority, could not get beds. It is quite disgraceful.

Mr. Carter

The hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) sounds more and more like a candidate for one of the beds.

In Northern Ireland we achieve 14.9 beds per 1,000, whereas the national average is 15. I should have thought that direct rule was doing quite well in terms of geriatric beds.

Mr. Mellish

Will my hon. Friend arrange for one of those beds to be given to the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder), who can stay there, for what good he is here?

Mr. Bradford

Will the Minister address his mind to another group of people who require round-the-clock attention—mentally handicapped children?

Currently 360 are awaiting vacancies in Muckamore Abbey Hospital, where beds become vacant but infrequently.

Mr. Carter

That is not entirely related to the question of geriatric beds. If the hon. Gentleman will let me have details of the matter that he has raised, I shall have it looked into and will send him a reply.