§ Mr. Galbraith
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will authorise an emergency cash allocation in the light of the recent statement made on the effect of staff shortages on patient care by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
[holding answer 16 November 1987]: No. The Government have increased resources to the health service in Scotland generally by 26 per cent. since 1979 and services for the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped have benefited substantially in real terms.
Staffing levels have also significantly improved since 1979: qualified staff up by 23 per cent. in mental illness and by 24 per cent. in mental handicap hospitals, unqualified staff by 8 per cent. and 10 per cent. respectively. The quality of staffing in terms of the ratio between qualified and unqualified staff has also improved with consequential benefits in the standard of care.
Since 1979 a number of new hospital units have been constructed and in most hospitals wards have been upgraded. In total 2,082 new mental health beds have been provided at a cost of £63.3 million. Substantial improvements have also been made to the main mental handicap hospitals, Lennox Castle and the Royal Scottish national hospital.
We will continue to urge health boards to give greater priority to services for the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped and it is encouraging that many boards now have firm plans to this end.