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Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many elderly patients suffering from dementia have been taken in the past year from hospitals in London to private nursing homes in the North and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, thus transferring the costs of caring for them from hospitals to the Department of Social Security; what consultation his Department has had with the Royal College of Psychiatrists about the effects of this for the patients concerned; and if he will make a statement.

The data held centrally do not record the geographical location of patients on discharge.It has been made clear to health authorities in health circular HC(89)5 that patients should not be discharged until proper arrangements have been made for any continuing care which may be necessary.In addition, circular HC(90)23/LASSL(90)11 provides that no mentally ill patient should be discharged without an agreed care programme which ensures that their needs for continuing health and social care and for accommodation are assessed and that appropriate arrangements are made. Care programmes must include the nomination of a key worker to keep in close touch with the patient and monitor the provision of the agreed package of health and social care. If appropriate care in the community cannot be arranged, then the patient must be offered in-patient care. Copies of both circulars are available in the Library.Officials of the Department have regular contact with the Royal College of Psychiatrists' section of old age psychiatry. In November last year the Department supported a one-day conference on long-term care held by the royal college.