asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many and which health authorities have instituted, or are planning, mental handicap registers; and what guidelines are provided for their design, scope and function.
The Department does not collect information on the number of mental handicap registers. However, the replies to a letter sent to authorities in 1983 as part of an Economic and Social Research Council funded survey of registers showed that 54 health authorities (and 44 social services departments) in England and Wales had registers and a further 96 health authorities (and 45 social services departments) were involved in planning them.* The Department has not issued guideline on the design, scope or function of registers and has take the view that these are matters for local decision. On it visits to individual authorities the National Development Team for Mentally Handicapped People encourages the establishment and proper maintenance of registers and, if appropriate, includes advice on these matters in its report to authorities. We are considering the recommendation in the recently published report of the Social Service Committee on community care with special reference adult mentally ill and mentally handicapped people the local and health authorities should be encouraged by the Department to develop together appropriate registers of mentally disabled people.
* Report of a National Survey of Registers of Mentally Handicapped People, by J. E. Cubbon and N. A. Malin, published April 1985 and available from Sheffield City Polytechnic.