HL Deb 09 July 1974 vol 353 cc469-71

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much research has been carried out to ascertain appropriate forms of care and rehabilitation of discharged patients from mental hospitals.


My Lords, a great deal of relevant work has been carried out in the past twenty years both in this country and overseas which has made a real contribution to the under- standing of the problems of the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped. A number of projects supported financially bv the Government, some in progress and others completed, relate to the services needed by patients discharged from mental hospitals. In addition, the Government are sponsoring the evaluation of major mental illness developments both at Worcester and at Southampton. In the case of the mentally handicapped, an experiment in total care supervision is being developed in Sheffield.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord the Minister for that most encouraging reply which shows the concern of Her Majesty's Government, may I ask whether he is aware of the, apparently, many cases of lack of consultation between hospitals and local authorities which result in unfavourable accommodation being found for discharged patients from mental hospitals who are unable to return to live with families, relatives or friends?


My Lords, the House will remember that in my reply of July 3 to the noble Countess, Lady Loudoun, I said that the Government were fully aware of the present deficiencies in the social services in providing for the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped. On that occasion I pointed out that there are many local authorities in the country who wish to develop educational, residential and occupational facilities. But the question is one of money and, as your Lordships know, it is necessary for local authorities to obtain loan sanction from the Department of Health and Social Security. Many local authorities have been given that loan sanction, but at the present moment the demand is far greater than the supply of money. What the noble Lord has said is perfectly true, but we are hoping that eventually we may be able to keep pace with the demand to provide these facilities.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, despite the criticism of the social services, many of us believe that the treatment of mental patients in this country is still second to none? Would he therefore bring to the attention of the Ministry concerned the importance to discharged women patients of being sent out into the world in a dress that fits and with a hair-do that makes them feel like other women? So far as male patients are concerned, there ought to be expenditure on a good suit. Nothing is better for improving the morale of a man or a woman on discharge than to feel that they are wearing good clothes and look good. A hair-do or a good suit would do more for a patient than many people think.


My Lords, I take note of what my noble friend has said, but I should like to assure the House that far more is being done for the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped than perhaps many people in the community realise. The stay in mental hospitals to-day is considerably less than it was a few years ago.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that although the standard of treatment of mental patients in this country may be high, we have to give the honours to those across the Border? The quality of treatment of mental patients in Scotland is probably the best in the world.

Forward to