Handicapped Children

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd February 1981.

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Photo of Mr Albert McQuarrie Mr Albert McQuarrie , Aberdeenshire East 12:00 am, 3rd February 1981

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the treatment provided within the National Health Service for newly born handicapped children.

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading South

No, Sir. We always hope to see still further improvements. The House will be pleased to know that there has been a major reduction in the perinatal mortality rate in the past five years from 20·3 per 1,000 in 1974 to 14·7 in 1979.

Photo of Mr Albert McQuarrie Mr Albert McQuarrie , Aberdeenshire East

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Has his attention been drawn to allegations that lethal doses of the sedative DF 118 have been administered to newly born handicapped children? If so, what action does he propose to take on that matter, which is of great concern to those of us who are intensly interested in the handicapped from birth onwards?

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading South

I am glad that my hon. Friend has raised that subject, which is a matter of considerable concern. We are looking into the implications.

Photo of Mr Clement Freud Mr Clement Freud , Isle of Ely

Is it not time that there was a statutory duty imposed on the NHS to acquaint the parents of handicapped children with the names and addresses of voluntary organisations that support the handicaps in question?

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading South

There is already a wide range of services available from the statutory agencies, including multi-disciplinary assessments, treatment and advice. I shall gladly look into the matter if the hon. Gentleman will tell me what he has in mind.

Photo of Mr Lewis Carter-Jones Mr Lewis Carter-Jones , Eccles

While acknowledging that there has been an overall improvement in the perinatal mortality rates, may I ask whether the Minister is aware that there are still substantial regional variations? With regard to the care of neonates, will the Minister take the advice offered by the Select Committee chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) and consider multi-disciplinary analysis of the needs of the handicapped neonates?

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading South

Yes, that is a very important part of our programme for helping newly born handicapped children. This is now one of the most important current developments in paediatric care, and one which I think all hon. Members will want to see developed further.