HC Deb 15 April 1965 vol 710 cc255-6W
Mr. Wylie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the practice of employing patients at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for eight hours in a day to pull a plough on fields adjoining the hospital; and whether he approves of this practice.

Mr. Ross

Patients and members of the garden staff have been employed at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital once a year, for six hours in total spread over two days, to draw a garden drill plough on half an acre of ground for operations for which it is not practicable to use a mechanical plough. This plough, which has been pulled by five elderly but fit patients, is a small implement which one person can carry. The work was carried out under medical supervision and no physical hardship was involved.

There is also the aspect of ensuring that the dignity of mental hospital patients is fully respected, and that no grounds are given for public anxiety on this score. The question whether any particular type of work is suitable for therapy is one for the hospital authorities in the first instance. They will be considering at a meeting later this month whether patients should be employed in this way in future. I am sure they will look closely at the need to avoid any work which might seem to threaten the patients' dignity.

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