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Mental Patients (Reclassification)

Volume 644: debated on Monday 10 July 1961

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asked the Minister of Health how many patients, up to the latest convenient date, have, under Schedule VI of the new Act, been reclassified as informal patients; and how many of these have subsequently been discharged as patients.

Comprehensive statistics will only be available from the end of the six months transitional period, but a small sample relating to subnormal patients suggests that rather more than half the patients detained on 1st November last were made informal during the period and that about 1 in 20 of these had left hospital by the end of it.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that information. Can he confirm that under the Mental Health Act no patient who is compulsorily detained needs to be reclassified as informal for discharge if there is the slightest risk that there will be a danger to themselves or to someone else? Does he not agree that if some reasonable risks were not taken large numbers of people leading useful lives in the community would be locked up in mental hospitals and possibly there would be more mental hospitals?

In principle, the reclassification required by the Sixth Schedule to the Mental Health Act was subject to the requirements both of the patient and of the public with regard to security, among other considerations.