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Volume 932: debated on Thursday 19 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many patients underwent psycho-surgery last year; and if he will make a statement about his Department's policy on psycho-surgery.

Information on the number of patients who underwent psycho-surgery last year is not available, but I would refer the hon. Member to the information in the reply of my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen)—then Minister of State, Department of Health and Social Security—to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) on 21st of January 1976—[Vol. 903, c. 512]. Arrangements are currently being made to obtain more detailed information on psychosurgical operations in respect of 1977 and subsequent years.In general, my Department does not have policies on medical treatments; it is normally for doctors to consider what lines of treatment they should offer to their patients, in the light of present knowledge of their advantages and disadvantages, the alternatives available, and the condition of the individual patient. On current evidence I have found no reason to treat psychosurgery as a special case, or to seek to influence doctors who may advise a patient that they think psychosurgical treatment would be in his best interests. Though this is today more rarely used, I have seen recent published studies which suggest that it is still of significant value in treating a limited number of intractable psychiatric conditions.