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Starcross And Calderstones Mental Hosptals

Volume 645: debated on Monday 24 July 1961

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29.

asked the Minister of Health what is the number of patients at the Starcross and Calderstones mental hospitals; and how many of the patients at each of these hospitals which formerly only accommodated compulsorily detained patients are now informal patients as a result of being reclassified under the new Mental Health Act.

At 14th July, 1,040 out of 1,148 patients at Starcross and 1,323 out of 1,896 patients at Calderstones were informal. Of these, 14 and 516, respectively, were made informal since 1st November, 1960.

Does not the Minister agree that this is a remarkable transformation, because before the passing of the Act these patients were compulsorily detained but are now, being informal patients, more or less free? Does he not think that there is a need to look into these figures, because it is being said that patients are being reclassified much too early? If that is not true, does he not appreciate what a terrible scandal it was that prior to the Act these people were compulsorily detained?

As the hon. Member knows, both practice and law in this matter have changed, but I think it would help to put the matter in perspective if I were to point out that classification as informal, of which I gave figures in my reply, has been taking place since the beginning of 1958, and it has been progressive over the lash three or four years.