HC Deb 06 December 1978 vol 959 cc701-2W
Mr. Kilroy-Silk

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will detail those parts of the recommendation of the report on habitual drunken offenders that have been implemented; and what plans he has to implement the others;

(2) if he will give a full account of the locally-based treatment services and the more effective service for homeless alcoholics that have been developed since the publication of"Better Services for the Mentally Ill ", Command Paper No. 6233, and"Priorities for Health and Social Services in England ".

Mr. Moyle:

The report of the Home Office working party on habitual drunken offenders set out in its summary of conclusions and recommendations a detailed analysis of the problems and suggestions for development and experiment over a wide range of public and voluntary services. In so far as health and social services are concerned, the report has been a starting-off point for the efforts, over the past five years, to improve services generally for people with a drink problem. The present situation and prospects for the future were recently summarised in the report"The Pattern and Range of Services for Problem Drinkers"by the Advisory Committee on Alcoholism which was appointed in 1975. This report refers to the increasing use of facilities in the NHS for the treatment of problem drinkers and the considerable and increasing calls made on social services. It is difficult to quantify use of these various services exactly, but the report notes that there are now 25 alcoholism treatment units, with 537 beds in England and Wales, all of which also offer out-patient treatment. In addition, there are two detoxification centres about which I am replying to my hon. Friend separately. The report also explains the provision made by voluntary agencies with Government support. For example, there are now 54 hostels providing 655 places for problem drinkers. The report makes clear that health authority and local authority social services provision for problem drinkers is still patchily distributed and inadequate; and that voluntary agencies, which have expanded in response to unmet needs, remain short of money. This report, which has considerable implications for the way in which services should be organised, has been circulated for comment to health authorities, local authorities and a wide range of professional and voluntary organisations. In the light of their views, and taking particular account of the availability of resources, we shall be considering how far the committee's recommendations might be incorporated in my Department's future planning guidelines.