HL Deb 19 July 1989 vol 510 cc772-4

2.43 p.m.

Lord McCluskey asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend, when announcing their decisions in response to the Griffiths Report on Community Care, to state what are to be the implications for community care in Scotland.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sanderson of Bowden)

My Lords, as you will know my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland made a written statement on 12th July in another place about his plans for community care in Scotland in the light of the Government's response to the Griffiths Report. A copy of that statement was placed in the Library.

Lord McCluskey

My Lords, does the noble Lord recognise that in that statement the Secretary of State asserted that the current arrangements for sharing responsibilities for services for the mentally ill between health and social work authorities in Scotland have generally worked well? Does he acknowledge that in Scotland there is widespread disagreement with that statement, coupled with deep disappointment that the Secretary of State for Scotland did not follow the lead of the Secretary of State for Health in England and Wales and announce a specific grant to encourage local authority support for services for the mentally ill? Finally, will the noble Lord advise the Secretary of State for Scotland before he publishes his White Paper to have the good sense and the humility to do what he did not do in the Griffiths exercise; namely, to seek the advice of those who tried with inadequate sources to provide help for those who need it in Scotland?

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

My Lords, I agree that in many arrangements there is always room for improvement. However, the present arrangements have resulted in significant reductions in the number of mentally handicapped and ill patients in long-stay institutions. I am sure that the noble and learned Lord, who has a great interest in this matter, will realise that.

Between 1979 and 1987 the number of mentally handicapped people in hospitals fell by 21 per cent. The number of long-stay mentally ill patients fell by 13 per cent. We have placed a high importance on having the right facilities in the community. Expenditure in the community health service has increased by 43 per cent. in real terms since 1979.

The arrangements recently announced for community care are designed to form the basis for further improvement in co-operation and co-ordination. Of course, the Scottish Office will be happy to meet representatives of the Scottish Association of Mental Health to discuss arrangements for the mentally ill.

Finally we wish to consider carefully whether there will be any advantage in introducing in Scotland the specific grant proposed for England or whether the resources might not be as effectively used in other ways. Decisions have not yet been made.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, the Minister referred to a statement made by the Secretary of State for Scotland in another place in which he emphasised that the primary objective of care in the community should be that of sustaining people in their homes for as long as possible. Recognising the great variations in individual circumstances, will the Minister ensure that the White Paper will allow for the maximum flexibility in dealing with individual people in need of care? Can he also say when the promised White Paper on the Griffiths Report will be published and whether there will be a separate White Paper for Scotland?

Lord Sanderson of Bowden

My Lords, yes, we have in mind and high on the agenda individual packages for individual needs, whether it is residential day care or respite care. Present indications show that it will be a GB White Paper with a Scottish dimension; in other words, there will be a Scottish input. We hope to publish it in the autumn.