asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on what date he received the communication from the hon. Member for Newham, North-West concerning the campaign of the Nursing Mirror "Nurses are worth more"; why it took him until 19 November to reply to this; what was contained in this reply which could not have been sent earlier; why this letter was not posted until 24 November; and whether he will, as previously promised, take action to ensure that his correspondence is more expeditiously dealt with.
The Department receives over 68,000 letters a year and I and my ministerial colleagues deal as promptly as possible with those calling for a personal reply.The hon. Member's letter was received on 2 November and replied to on 19 November.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what consideration he has given to the dossier of correspondence sent to him by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe about the lack of adequate provision for the very old; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for letting me see the correspondence that has been referred to him about the care of the elderly and the elderly with mental infirmity. Most of the 21 letters indicate that in various parts of the country geriatric and/ or psychiatric services for the elderly need expansion and improvement.I set out in an earlier reply to the right hon. Gentleman—[19 November 1981, Vol. 13, c.
230]—the action taken nationally to ensure that services for these vulnerable groups are given priority. The implementation of national priorities in the light of local circumstances will be the responsibility of the new district health authorities.
But it must not be overlooked that some areas provide excellent services for their physically and mentally infirm old people and I would do less than justice to the many dedicated and caring staff who work in this difficult and often unrewarding area if I did not pay tribute to their efforts.