Capital programmes for 1955–56 have not yet been received from either Board, but the amounts allocated for that year are: United Hospitals, £68,000; Regional Hospital Board £283,000. Additional sums will be made available as required to enable work to be continued on three schemes now in progress which are being financed centrally.
Is the Minister telling us that there have been no consultations between the Regional Hospital Board and the board of governors with reference to capital expenditure? Is it not a fact that the Board has been told how much it is to be allowed to spend, and that, therefore, it is not a question of what estimates should be submitted of work requiring to be done?
For some time now, it has been the custom in the summer of each year to notify regional boards, subject to the approval of Parliament, which, of course, has not by then been given, the amounts which it is intended should be spent in the next financial year, and it is for them to say how the priorities shall be allocated within that amount.
Is it not a fact that the position now is that boards are not asked to submit estimates but are told what they are going to get, and that they then have to decide what they are to do with the money? Is not this a very silly way of dealing with the problem? Would it not be wiser for a statement to be made about an alteration in policy before Questions of this sort have to be asked?
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the distress being caused to parents who are compelled, in the Liverpool area, to retain at home mentally-defective children who need hospital care; and what action is being taken to provide the accommodation necessary, as a matter of urgency.
I am well aware of this problem, which causes me grave concern. The building of a new mental deficiency hospital at Greaves Hall, Southport, is being financed from central funds and will provide 1,000 beds, including 300 for children of which 100 are expected to be ready by December, 1956. Schemes in the Manchester region financed from the "mental million," which will to some extent help this area, are expected to produce accommodation for 40 mentally deficient adolescent boys by next April and for 40 mentally deficient children in 1956.
Does not the Minister realise that he is talking about the Manchester Regional Hospital Board and about the immediate vacancies in April, whereas this problem is in Liverpool, and is a very serious one indeed. While realising that a scheme is going to be started, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is now that something needs to be done in order to relieve these parents of the very difficult problem which they have to face? Will the Minister please say whether it is possible to alter the arrangements whereby a child can be sent to a short-stay home for up to eight weeks, but under which, if it is over eight weeks, the regional hospital board then refuses to take any further financial responsibility and places that cost upon the local authority?
It is precisely because I know of the special need concerning mental cases in the Liverpool area that the first hospital being built in this country since before the war is for mental patients in that region. What happens in the Manchester region is very relevant indeed, because for mental and mental deficiency problems the Liverpool and Manchester authorities pool their resources.