§ Mr. Porter
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will undertake a study of the current lengths of waiting lists for in-patient treatment for psychogeriatric patients; and if he will request health authorities to give higher priority to the allocation of resources to this group of patients.
§ Sir George Young
Waiting lists by themselves are not reliable indicators of need for further service provision. I study, and expect health authorities to study, reports by the Health Advisory Service for indicators of local problems. These can provide information about the waiting list, set, where appropriate, in the context of other relevant information, such as demographic changes. I share my hon. Friend's concern for this group, and our recent WhitePaper "Growing Older" stressed its needs. In listing priorities for health authorities in "Care in Action" we specified the provision of enough suitable accommodation for the elderly severely mentally infirm, together with ensuring cover by consultant psychiatrists with a special interest in the elderly, as being among the most urgent tasks.