HC Deb 28 March 1990 vol 170 cc217-8W
Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list in theOfficial Report, for the latest available date, the numbers of mental illness beds in secure accommodation in each district health authority and those district health authorities where no secure accommodation is available; what action he has taken to promote the development of comprehensive secure provision, including that for those chronically mentally ill and behaviourally disturbed people not appropriate for regional secure units, in pursuance of the recommendation of the interdepartmental Home Office and Department of Health and Social Security working group accepted in 1987; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman

Tables with the numbers of mental illness beds in secure accommodation in district health authorities at the end of 1986, the most recent date for which figures are available centrally, and those districts without secure mental illness beds, have been placed in the Library.

The Department continues to work closely with regional health authorities and professional bodies in developing a full range of secure provision. In particular it remains our policy that, in all appropriate cases, mentally disordered offenders should be kept out of, or transferred from, the penal system. To that end, we are fully committed to the implementation of all the recommendations made by the joint working party. Its report provides a co-ordinated strategy to guide the work of both the Department of Health and the Home Office. It identified a series of practical and achievable measures aimed at improving access to health and social services, and ensuring that full use is made of existing provisions.

Good progress has been made in implementing the report's recommendations, including the recent publication of guidelines for health authorities on services for mentally handicapped people with challenging behaviour. We know that there are still occasional difficulties in placing particular patients quickly in appropriate accommodation; in some cases improvements in local referral systems are required; in others some additional facilities may be needed. But there are a number of places in which excellent work is being undertaken. We will be drawing on experience gained from these initiatives in formulating national guidelines in due course.