The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1983-1987 Parliament

Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Deaf People – 23 October 1986

Below is the text of Mr Major’s written Parliamentary Answer on Deaf People on 23rd October 1986.

Mr. Ashley Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many pre-lingual deaf people there are in Britain.

Mr. Major I regret that statistics are not collected in this form and the registers kept by local authorities in England are not truly representative. However, it appears to be generally estimated that the prevalence of pre-lingual deafness is around one per thousand of live births.

Mr. Ashley Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many health service units provide specifically for the mental health of profoundly deaf people; where they are located; what is their size in terms of both professional staff and patients treated; what provision there is in regions which do not have such a unit; and how much supra-regional funding is provided.

Mr. Major Two units within the National Health Service are known to provide specialist psychiatric services for people who are deaf. These are located at the Springfield hospital, in Wandsworth, and at the Whittingham hospital in Preston. The numbers of patients treated in 1985–86 were:

Hospital | In-patient/discharges and Deaths | Out-patient Attendances
Springfield Hospital | 27 | 187
Whittingham Hospital | 56 | 183

Information is not held centrally on the numbers of staff appointed directly to these units.

In addition, building is scheduled to start on a major new psychiatric unit at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Birmingham, early in 1990. The unit will include specialist facilities for patients throughout the West Midlands region with particular needs, including deaf people with psychiatric disorders. The building is scheduled for completion in 1993.

Supra-regional funds are not at present provided for this service, though North Western and South West Thames regional health authorities have recently applied for their services to be supra-regionally designated. These applications are currently under consideration by the Supra Regional Services Advisory Group.

The principle of supra-regional services is to make available a highly-specialised facility to patients from regions which do not contain such a facility themselves.

Mr. Ashley Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the nature and extent of provision for the mental health needs of deaf people including the extent of domiciliary provision, the number of hostels, and the number of professional people in the National Health Service who are able to communicate fluently with the pre-lingually deaf people.

Mr. Major The mental health needs of the majority of deaf people can be met within the general mental health services. Domiciliary provision and hostels form part of these general services, and are available to deaf people. However, information is not collected centrally about the extent of such domiciliary services or hostel provision, or about the number of professional people working in the National Health Service who are able to communicate fluently with pre-lingually deaf people.

A small proportion of deaf people have a profound hearing handicap or are pre-lingually deaf, and require special communication skills from those who work with them. Such skills are available in the two specialist psychiatric units at Whittingham hospital, Preston, and Springfield hospital, London.