The report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals for the years 1988 and 1989 which was published recently outlined, among other things, the measures which in the inspector's opinion needed to be taken in those years to enhance patient care. I am satisfied that the recommendations of the inspectorate have been acted upon by all health boards and that the rehabilitation and activation of patients in psychiatric hospitals has been given a greater priority. Progress in this respect has been noted by the inspector in his reports for 1990 and 1991 which will be published later this year.
As the Deputy will be aware, I launched a Green Paper on Mental Health on 3 June last. The Green Paper includes a chapter on improving care in the existing psychiatric hospitals. It draws attention to the vulnerability of long-stay patients in psychiatric hospitals and the need to maintain standards in the hospitals at the same time as services are moving to acute hospitals and the community. For this reason the Government intend to retain the present role of the inspector in relation to the psychiatric hospitals. The inspectorate will continue to provide an objective report on the standards of accommodation and care in psychiatric hospitals and a means whereby my Department and the public can be kept informed of the conditions in the hospitals and progress towards the rehabilitation of patients and their transfer to more appropriate services.
Submissions on the proposals in the Green Paper have been invited from interested parties before 1 October next.