HC Deb 14 March 1984 vol 56 cc383-4
7. Mr. Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the rate of return of mentally handicapped persons to the community in Scotland and with the level of funding available to achieve this.

Mr. John MacKay

There has been a steady increase each year since 1979 in the return of such patients to the community, and the Government will continue to encourage this.

Mr. Wilson

Does the Under-Secretary of State agree that, on reflection, his reply is complacent? In Scotland the proportion of people in hospital to those in community care is twice what it is in England. Perhaps that could be explained by the fact that the financing this year is one third the English figure.

Mr. MacKay

The joint funding project in Scotland started only in 1980, whereas the project in England had been running for three years before 1980, and therefore many more projects were built up in the English scheme than in Scotland. I am happy to say that this year there has been a faster increase in take-up of the scheme than in the past two years. I hope that that will encourage the continuing movement from hospital of those mentally handicapped people who can live in the community.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Given the very considerable savings that have accrued to the Health Service from this scheme, why has my hon. Friend been so unsympathetic to the approaches by the Scottish Society for the Mentally Handicapped for funding for development officers, given the weird and wonderful organisations his Department already funds?

Mr. MacKay

We look carefully at every scheme that comes to us involving health boards and regional councils, which have responsibility for social work. It is a case not just of wondering whether we can save money in the Health Service but of considering the clinical judgment of people involved in the treatment of patients when deciding whether those patients would be better looked after in hospital than in the community.