HL Deb 12 July 1983 vol 443 cc783-4WA
Lord Mottistone

asked Her Majesty's Government:

  1. (a) Whether it remains Government policy to close 30 psychiatric hospitals as soon as possible, as 784 announced by the Secretary of State for Social Services on 20th October 1980;
  2. (b) If so, how many patients would be affected, and what alternative in-patient provision is envisaged for the chronically ill, for whom this is essential on a long-term basis; and

Whether, when closing psychiatric hospitals, if disposal of hospital land is envisaged, the sites will be offered for alternative psychiatric provision.

Lord Glenarthur

It has never been a matter of policy that any specified number of psychiatric hospitals should be closed. However, changes in professional practice have resulted in falling numbers of in-patients for nearly 30 years, and it still seems likely that within the next 10 to 15 years many large isolated psychiatric hospitals will prove redundant.

It remains Government policy to encourage a shift towards more community-based services, because this is considered to be in the best interest of patients who do not need long-term in-patient care. Any proposals to close or change the use of hospital premises are matters for individual health authorities and are subject to laid-down consultation procedures. Final decisions will always have full regard to the needs of patients and to all relevant circumstances. In-patients will not he discharged merely because a hospital is closed. The hospital's services would be moved to more suitable and more convenient premises, and there will be adequate alternative provision both for long-stay in-patients and for short-stay in-patients. Our aim is for every patient to be cared for according to his or her individual needs, either in the community or in hospital.

As regards the disposal of sites, the Government's general policy is to allow the proceeds from the sale of hospital land and property to accrue to the hospital concerned or to the relevant District Health Authority.