Regional Secure Units

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th June 1979.

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Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Ormskirk 12:00 am, 26th June 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he proposes to take to ensure the early establishment of regional secure psychiatric units for the mentally-disordered.

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading South

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him on 12 June.

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Ormskirk

Does not the Minister consider it disgraceful that, five years after the units were recommended as a matter of great urgency and after £24 million has been given to regional health authorities, we still have not one single unit in existence? Is he aware that three regional authorities have not spent one penny of the money allocated to them for this purpose and that three others have not submitted plans to his Department? Will he call in the chairmen of every regional authority and insist that progress is made soon?

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading South

I am interested that the hon. Gentleman has pointed out the failures of the previous Government. My right hon. Friend and I share his concern about the lack of places in regional secure units. We should like to see more units for the sake of patients, nurses and the communities in which they are placed and we are urgently looking into the provision of units. We shall shortly be meeting the chairmen of regional authorities and this matter will be on the agenda.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

I seldom, if ever, agree with the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk), but may I impress upon my hon. Friend the importance of secure units? Is he aware that many people are concerned that violent, mentally disordered patients are being allocated to hospitals without secure accommodation, and that this is creating great worry to the communities in which those hospitals are located? Will he therefore treat the matter with considerable urgency?

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading South

Yes, we will. I share my hon. Friend's concern. It is an appalling situation and we shall deal with it as quickly as we can.