Mental Hospitals (Discharged Patients)

Oral Answers to Questions — Hospitals – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th December 1958.

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Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford 12:00 am, 8th December 1958

asked the Minister of Health, in view of the decision in the High Court on the illegal detention of Miss Kathleen Rutty, which resulted in her discharge as a mental defective, and the subsequent review of those mental defective patients detained under the same Section of the Mental Deficiency Act. 1913, how many patients have been discharged as a result of this review; how many are still detained under this particular section of the Act; and why they have not yet been released.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

So far 1957 have been discharged; 3,078 are still detained because they are unfit for discharge or have nowhere suitable to go.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that I am delighted that nearly 2,000 people who had been wrongfully certified have now been allowed out? Does he not think it a terrible indictment that a country such as ours should detain 3,000 people who have never been certified, and should do so largely because we have no other place for them than mental institutions? I ask the Minister to undo some of the wrong which has been done. Is it not possible to give them some special rehabilitation courses to help to smooth their way back into the community?

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

We do not know, of course, that all those cases are similar to the Rutty case, because we do not know the facts which were before the court. The board is not in a position at any time to know the facts before the court at the time of their admission. These are cases which appear on the face of it to have some similarity, but I am sure that what the hon. Member has in mind is that the basis of the Rutty decision was on the construction of the words "found neglected" and, as he will appreciate, there is no doubt that many of these 3,000 people are in need of care and treatment for their mental condition.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

Yes, but not in mental institutions.

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the anxiety and shame expressed by the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) is widely shared on this side of the House?

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

I hope that before my hon. Friend uses those expressions he will study the facts and will realise what was the basis of the Rutty decision. I shall be very happy to discuss the matter with him if he so desires.