§ Mr. Ashton
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, in the light of the remarks of Judge A. P. Ellis of Nottingham Crown Court on Monday 2nd February that he was appalled at sentencing Mrs. Alice Eden of Langold, Nottingham, to two-and-a-half years' imprisonment and of doctors' reports that she was suffering from a mental disorder warranting hospital treatment she will institute an inquiry into her Department's refusal to find a hospital place for Mrs. Eden.
§ Dr. Owen
Neither of the two doctors who recommended a hospital order under Section 60 of the Mental Health Act 1959 considered that Mrs. Eden met the criteria laid down in Section 40 of the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973 for a special hospital bed. This view was shared by the Department's medical advisers. Responsibility, therefore, lay with the appropriate regional or area health authority to make a National Health Service hospital bed available. This they were unable to do because of a shortage of beds suitable for this type of patient. I understand that Mrs. Eden is on the waiting list for admission to Balderton Hospital.
I accept that a situation in which a person who requires specialised treatment of this kind is unable to obtain it because of a shortage of hospital places is far from satisfactory, but the Trent Regional Health Authority is working urgently on plans to increase the provision of suitable accommodation for patients requiring a degree of security short of that provided in the special hospitals.