HC Deb 24 October 1973 vol 861 cc537-8W
Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will inquire fully into the circumstances at Lea Castle Hospital on 12th January 1973 when John Curran strangled himself with his own braces; what was the cause of death; and what steps he is taking to prevent the repetition of such an occurrence.

Sir K. Joseph

The cause of John Curran's death was strangulation with a ligature, apparently in the course of a game with other patients which went too far. The coroner returned an open verdict. A report was also made by the police to the Director of Public Prosecutions and one of the other patients involved has been transferred to a secure hospital. From reports received from the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board I am satisfied that no useful purpose would be served in making further inquiries into this unfortunate incident. The real solu-

ponding figures for each year since 1960 are given in the following table:

Year Men Women
(thousands) (thousands)
1960 290 135
1961 285 130
1962 275 130
1963 255 125
1964 250 120
1965 245 115
1966 230 105
1967 220 100
1968 205 90
969 190 80
1970 185 75
971 180 70
972 175 65

The amounts of extra entitlement accruing for each of these years cannot be calculated since they depend on whether the person deferring retirement worked for the whole year and whether part-increments linked with others earned in the previous year. The weekly amount of the increase in pension and the minimum number of contributions required to qualify for such increase were however as follows:

tion to supervision problems lies in increasing staff-patient ratios and reducing patient numbers and the size of patient groupings, objects which are amongst the important aims of the Government's White Paper "Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped" (Cmnd. 4683).

At Lea Castle Hospital vigorous efforts continue to be made—with some further success since this incident—towards these ends. Clerical staff have also recently been appointed to undertake some work formerly performed by nurses.