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Mental Nursing Homes (Inspection)

Volume 640: debated on Monday 15 May 1961

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37.

asked the Minister of Health what instructions he has issued to local health authorities regarding the inspection of mental nursing homes in accordance with S.I. 1960, No. 1272; and whether he will require local authorities to employ suitably qualified persons to report upon the treatment provided for patients in such nursing homes.

I expect registration authorities to ensure that the persons inspecting are suitably qualified. This and other points are dealt with in Circular 18/60, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy.

Does not the Minister agree that private nursing homes are unique in having a direct financial interest in retaining patients as long as possible? Does not this factor make it all the more necessary for inspection to be thorough and searching, and will the Minister agree that this can hardly be done unless a trained psychiatrist is employed by the local health authority when carrying out inspections? Further, is it not a fact that many of these homes give patients little or no treatment, and ought not this to be looked into?

Undoubtedly, inspection is a very important safeguard here. That is why it has to take place every six months. As I said, inspection cannot serve its purpose unless it is carried out by suitably qualified persons, and I have emphasised this to the authorities concerned.