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Mental Patients

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 8 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Health in what circumstances patients in mental hospitals are allowed to take up paid outside work; and, when they do so, what contribution they pay towards the cost of keeping them in hospital.

The patients concerned are those who have reached a stage at which employment in paid occupations outside the hospital is possible and likely to aid progress towards recovery. The amounts paid by such patients as a contribution towards the cost of maintenance in hospital vary according to earnings, but the maximum amount recoverable is £2 15s. a week.

What precautions are taken to see that mental defectives employed outside the institutions get the proper rate for the job?

It is the responsibility of the medical superintendent of the hospital to make individual arrangements.


asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that many local authorities are reluctant to allow homes for the after-care of mental patients to be set up in their areas; and what is the policy of his Department in this matter.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health
(Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

No case of this kind has been brought to my right hon. Friend's attention. He would hope and expect that local authorities would deal with such proposals in the same way as they treat other kinds of convalescent accommodation.

Will the hon. Lady take it from me that many of the people who have the misfortune to be afflicted suffer the terrible penalty of being treated as "untouchables" in regard to employment and social contact? Will he try to rescue them from that terrible fate?

I think that the hon. and learned Member is referring to a different matter when he mentions employability.

May I ask the hon. Lady what is represented by the flowers she is wearing?

Order. That is a matter which does not fall within the administrative responsibility of the hon. Lady.


asked the Minister of Health how many homes for the after-care of mental patients exist in England and Wales; where they are situated; what their accommodation is; how many patients they contain; and of what categories.

Precise information on all these points is not available. The Mental After-Care Association provides directly or indirectly 23 homes in Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Suffolk and Northamptonshire, with accommodation for 524 patients and 463 at present in residence. Two homes are reserved for short-term cases; the remainder provide for long-term cases and for patients on holiday from mental hospitals. The Ex-Servicemen's Welfare Association provides two homes for 50 patients in all.

While thanking the hon. Lady for that reply, may I ask whether she would put me under a further obligation by telling me how those figures compare with the corresponding figures for Scotland?