HC Deb 22 July 1980 vol 989 cc217-8W
Mr. Parris

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has yet reached any conclusions on the recommendations made by the committee of inquiry into mental handicap nursing and care—the Jay report—and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Yes. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales and I have given careful consideration to this complex and important report and to the many and widely diverging views of those consulted. We wish to express our appreciation of the committee's dedicated approach and for all its hard work.

The committee's philosophy and model of care for mental handicap services envisaged a radical change from the present pattern of services to one based on smaller and more local residential units in the community. While welcoming its approach, we have to accept that this shift will be gradual and will take longer than the committee had hoped, particularly in view of current necessary restraints on public expenditure. We also take the view that the most severely and multiple-handicapped people will always need some form of NHS care and more experience is needed on whether this can be provided within the committee's model of care. In these circumstances, whilst we accept the principles underlying the committee's recommendations, we believe that it would not be right to urge immediate fundamental changes to the present training arrangements. This is not, in our view, the time to abandon a well tried form of training for nurses—who will continue to provide the majority of mental handicap care staff for some time to come—for one which is comparatively new, and vigorously opposed by nurses and major voluntary organisations. However, we concur with the committee that the training needs of NHS and social services staff have much in common and that progress should be made in the direction suggested by the committee. We are, therefore, inviting the General Nursing Councils and the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work to set up a working group to look urgently at ways of introducing common elements within the separate forms of training and providing advice to authorities on the development of common in-service training courses and to come back with a plan for achieving this. This should take account also of the training needs of voluntary organisations. At the same time, we are asking them to consider the feasibility in the long term of a joint training which would lead to a joint qualification for those wanting it.