§ 14. Mr. Forman
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he 476W is satisfied with the number of mentally handicapped children cared for in NHS hospitals.
§ 16. Mr. Shepherd
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many mentally handicapped children are currently in NHS hospitals on a full-time basis.
§ Mr. Ennals
The number of children under 16 resident in mental handicap hospitals and units at the end of 1975 is estimated to be just under 5,000, a decrease of about 300 since the previous year. It is not possible to identify from central records how many of these children were in hospital for short-term care, though an increasing number of admissions are known to be for this purpose. A few mentally handicapped children are admitted to other NHS hospitals for various reasons but cannot be separately identified. The Government's policy, which is set out in the White Paper "Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped", is that no mentally handicapped child should have to remain in hospital any longer than is necessary in his own interest. Too many children are still in hospital because of a lack of alternative provision in the community. The Government have urged field authorities to give high priority to the development of the necessary community residential and support services, and joint financing should be helpful in this respect.
§ 36. Mr. Hannam
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the average weekly cost of caring for a severely handicapped child in a local authority residential home at the last date for which a figure is available.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
The only information available centrally about the cost of maintaining handicapped children in local authority residential homes relates to the mentally handicapped. In 1975–76, the average weekly cost was about £85. This figure includes loan charges but excludes administration costs.