Single Sex Wards

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 6th July 2004.

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Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe Conservative, Broxbourne 11:30 am, 6th July 2004

What progress has been made with making wards in child and adolescent mental health services units single-sex.

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

The data are not collected centrally, but the Royal College of Psychiatrists' quality network for in-patient child and adolescent mental health services conducts annual reviews of services. Of the units reviewed in 2002–03, 89 per cent. fully or partly met its standards for single-sex privacy, and for units reviewed so far in 2003–04, that has increased to 98 per cent.

Photo of Mrs Marion Roe Mrs Marion Roe Conservative, Broxbourne

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, but can he tell the House what action is being taken to stop young and adolescent mental health patients being placed in adult mental health wards, and what measures the Government propose to take to ease the crisis in resources for such patients?

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

I congratulate the hon. Lady on her recently bestowed honour.

The hon. Lady is right; there is a real problem when it becomes necessary to place adolescents in adult wards and we are working very hard to avoid it, not only by giving guidance to the services but also by making major investments in those services. I bring to her attention the fact that later this year we shall be publishing the national service framework for children, which will include further extensive guidance on the subject.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Minister (Children)

If we are "motley", I dread to think what unparliamentary language would be required accurately to describe the shower on the Treasury Bench—

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Minister (Children)

Why did a recent British Medical Journal survey of psychiatrists and paediatricians reveal that nearly two thirds of under-18-year-olds with mental health problems were admitted to inappropriate wards, many to adult wards? They were the lucky ones, given that the mean number of adolescent in-patient beds is only 7.1 beds per 100,000 of the population, leading to the conclusion that there is an absolute lack of capacity in child and adolescent in-patient psychiatrist units. Given all the Government's bluster about eradicating mixed-sex wards for adults with physical illness—unsuccessfully—why have they done nothing to end mixed-sex wards for adolescents with mental illness, potentially the most vulnerable of all?

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

I would not have thought child and adolescent mental services an obvious subject for levity, but perhaps my sense of humour is not quite as refined as the hon. Gentleman's.

We are making a major investment in child and adolescent mental health services, including an investment in new wards and in providing single rooms and separate-sex facilities. We are making the investment that will improve a service with which we are not happy. The hon. Gentleman is pledged to taking that investment out.