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Older People (Clinics)

Volume 655: debated on Monday 12 March 1962

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asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to promote special clinics which provide preventive health services for older people.

Local health authorities have power to provide such clinics, and, with my approval, some are doing so, but at present they are largely experimental.

Is the Minister not aware that malnutrition among elderly people today is as serious as it was among children in this country thirty years ago, and that while the cause is mainly poverty and the apathy which often goes with it, none the less these experimental clinics have produced remarkable results in rehabilitation and rejuvenation by early diagnosis and advice on health and dieting? Is it not the Minister's function actively to promote clinics of this sort instead of just leaving it to the local authorities?

The result of these experimental clinics will certainly be interesting and may be important, but I cannot agree that at this stage it would be advisable to generalise this provision. I think that there are many things more important for the care of the old.

Will the Minister bear in mind that these old people have not too long to play with, and will he, therefore, look urgently into the question, because while he is considering and watching the experiments old people are dying?

These are mainly advisory and not treatment centres. I am not saying that they may not be useful, but I am saying that other forms of specific provision for the old have a higher priority, certainly at present.