HC Deb 07 July 1981 vol 8 cc251-2
6. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his policy towards supporting those Who care for relatives who are suffering from schizophrenia.

Sir George Young

Our policy is that appropriate health and personal social services should be available to support those who have the responsibility of caring for relatives suffering from schizophrenia, as for others who support disabled people in the community. Carers may qualify for social security benefits. Voluntary organisations also have an important contribution to make in this task of "supporting the supporters". We are particularly conscious of the valuable work of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, both in direct support of relatives and in developing local liaison so that health and social services give closer support. The Department gives a grant towards its national expenses.

Mr. Atkinson

I thank my hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. Is he aware that one in 100 people will suffer from this disease by the time that they are 45, as do more than half the patients in mental health hospitals? I urge him to embark on new research into both the causes and possible solutions to this problem.

Sir George Young

My hon. Friend is quite right to draw attention to the high incidence of this illness. Research is a matter for the Medical Research Council, which already includes schizophrenia within its research programme. I shall see what further action can be taken to bring forward more research projects.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Is the Minister aware that there is no point in his talking about these wonderful policies unless they are backed up and implemented on the ground? Will he now name yet again all those local authorities that have no provision for either day or residential care for the mentally ill and indicate what action he will take so that they can provide for these disadvantaged people?

Sir George Young

If the hon. Gentleman tables a question, we shall make available the information that he seeks. In view of the number of local authority departments concerned, it will involve a lot of work. Over the last two and a half years, spending on personal social services has gone up by about 4 per cent. in real terms. We have maintained spending on the NHS along the lines planned by our predecessors. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman is wrong to imply that there have been any cuts in that programme as a whole.