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Mentally Handicapped Persons (Nursing)

Volume 885: debated on Tuesday 28 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she has received on the Briggs Report.

I have received representations from a number of organisations and individuals on various aspects of the Briggs Report. Mostly, opinion has favoured early implementation of the recommendations and asked that adequate resources be made available, but there has been criticism of some of the proposals.

Will my right hon. Friend accept that both the training and the practice of nurses for the mentally handicapped has increased rapidly in the last few years and moved increasingly away from general nursing? Will she, therefore, give an assurance that in legislation on nurses' training she will continue to provide for the separate registration, enrolment, training and examination of nurses for the mentally handicapped? Will my right hon. Friend further give an indication whether, and if so when, we are likely to have a separate caring profession for the mentally handicapped?

I appreciate that there has been uncertainty as to their future among nurses in mental handicap hospitals following the references in the Briggs Report to a new caring profession. All I can say to my hon. Friend at this stage is that I hope to make a statement soon about our policy on the mentally handicapped.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that in hospitals for the mentally handicapped there is a higher ratio of patients to consultants than there is in any other type of hospital in the United Kingdom? The patients, therefore, have a special dependence on the nursing staff, and if the Briggs Report were implemented, recruitment of nurses for the mentally handicapped would be devastated.

I note what the hon. Gentleman says, but I do not at this stage wish to add anything to what I have just said.