04 March 2019

4th March 1976 - Minister of Health visits aftercare Hostels

On 4th March 1976, Dr David Owen, a Minister of Health, made a visit to Birmingham to visit hostels and other accommodation used as after care for patients discharged from Mental Hospitals. The National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children had complained that 'the city had become a dumping ground for discharged hospital patients from all over the country.' As there was not enough hostel accommodation a number of small hotels had sprung up to cater for people being moved from large hospitals to community care.

Dr Owen went to visit and was followed by the press. An article appeared in the Birmingham Daily Post suggesting some people were worried that Dr Owen had been taken to local council run facilities and not the private sector and so it would be a whitewash. Mr Owen did however visit one of five lodging houses run by a Mrs Peggy Dowling. But at that point the press were mistakenly not allowed to follow which raised other doubts.

Afterwards the minister said he would not comment on particular cases but that the government would look at greater powers of inspection for private places, and that any place holding three or more discharged people should be registered anyway.

From Birmingham Daily Post - Thursday 04 March 1976. Thankyou to the British Newspaper Archive for the date.

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