§ 9. Mrs. Peacock
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what increase there has been in the number of inpatients per available bed in the geriatric services.
§ Mr. John Patten
The number of inpatient cases treated per available bed in NHS hospital geriatric units in England rose from 4.2 in 1978 to 5.8 in 1983.
§ Mrs. Peacock
Does my hon. Friend agree that this is a good sign of the hospital care that has been extended to 178 our elderly people, and can he confirm that sufficient funds will be made available for their care in the community subsequently?
§ Mr. Patten
Yes, we are totally committed to the promise in our 1983 election manifesto to make better health and care for the elderly our great priority. That is why, in geriatric care, we have increased the number of nurses by 11 per cent., the number of consultants by 17 per cent. and the number of senior registrars by 43 per cent. since 1979. That is a considerable record by any Health Service standards.
§ Mr. Eastham
Instead of the Minister playing the numbers game on geriatric care, should he not pay attention to the fact that geriatric hospitals are the worst in the medical service, with antiquated wards and inadequacies in the provision for geriatric patients? Is it not about time that we spent far more money in this sector?
§ Mr. Patten
It has been the case, as the hon. Gentleman says, that long-stay geriatric hospitals have often been the part of the National Health Service that has been ignored. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has referred to that form of hospital care as one of the Cinderella services. That is what we are trying to put right, not only by our massive building schemes for new hospitals and geriatric units, but by the advances that we are making in our care in the community processes, by the increase in domiciliary visits by nurses and those who bring meals on wheels, and by increases in day centres and the other things that make up the new fabric of care for the elderly.