vol 698 cc177-86
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Pym.]
Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
I am grateful to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for his courtesy in coming to the House tonight, as I know that he had another important engagement which he has now cancelled. I am sorry to cause the hon. Gentleman inconvenience, but I wish to raise a matter of substantial importance in the City of Cardiff. I have not hitherto taken part in the debates in the House on the question of mental health, but recently I paid a visit to the Whitchurch Mental Hospital, Cardiff, and I must say that my deep interest was aroused and my concern for those who are involved in the work of the hospital has found expression in this debate.
I want to pay a tribute to the doctors, the nurses, the psychiatrists and the social workers and the whole splendid team who, under the leadership of Dr. Spillane, pursue the interests of them mentally sick at Whitchurch Hospital. Like those in other mental hospitals, they work under substantial difficulties. For instance, the workroom which I visited was crowded almost beyond capacity. But I gladly pay tribute to the substantial improvements that have taken place in this hospital since my previous visit, unfortunately a long time ago. Bright decorations and modern furniture have made the wards much more attractive and, I believe, the life of the patients much more variable.
I was shocked to learn that a great number of patients in the hospital ought not to be there at all. Devoted medical skill and care and the use of modern drugs have together served to bring these patients to a point where they could live in the community if they had suitable accommodation. Some of them have been long years in the hospital and the only reason they are there today is either that they have no family to which they may return or that for a diversity of reasons their family declines to take responsibility for caring for them. I can think of no greater agony than for a 178 restored person in a mental hospital to be aware that he has to go on living there simply because he has no home to which to return. It is a palpable injustice which society perpetrates upon these people that they should have to endure further years in the mental hospital like lost souls in an indifferent society.
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