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Residential Accommodation (Mentally Handicapped Persons)

Volume 975: debated on Tuesday 11 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many mentally handicapped persons in each of the Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley area health authority areas would require residential accommodation if they were not being cared for by their elderly parents; and if he will make a statement on his policy regarding the provision of accommodation when these parents can no longer look after their children.

The figures requested are not held centrally. The hon. Member may wish to ask the area health authorities concerned what information they hold. We believe that it is often best for mentally handicapped people to live at home and it is therefore our aim to ensure that support is provided to families with a mentally handicapped member to enable them to cope for as long as possible. Satisfactory residential or hospital accommodation, appropriate to their needs, should be provided for those mentally handicapped people no longer able to live at home.

A report issued by the Rotherham area health authority states that there are approximately 400 mentally handicapped adults in that area. That means that there are thousands of parents in the country who are disturbed about what will happen to their sons and daughters when there is no parental care. What will the Government do about that? The cuts in expenditure on the Health Service will mean that there will be no help for these children when their parents die.

I am aware of the CHC report to which the hon. Gentleman referred. The report is now being considered by the Rotherham area health authority. In Doncaster and Rotherham there are no urgent cases awaiting long-term care. There is only one patient in Barnsley urgently awaiting admission for long-term care.

The Minister says that the area health authority should provide residential accommodation for mentally handicapped persons whose parents can no longer care for them. Has he taken into account the need to provide them with the necessary resources to do so? Will not that be more difficult in the light of the Government's policy on public expenditure?

No. Building of new hospital units for 96 adults and 24 children is due to start in Barnsley next year. The Doncaster and Rotherham AHAs already provide a comprehensive service for mentally handicapped people in their areas.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.