Report demands action on care of people with learning disabilities
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NHS England has published an independent report into the future care of people with learning disabilities. Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of charity leaders body ACEVO, was asked by NHS England to work with stakeholders and make recommendations for the development of a national commissioning framework to address serious shortcomings in the provision of support for people with learning disabilities.
Sir Stephen chaired an independent group who developed the report, “Winterbourne View – Time for Change”, with guidance and expertise from healthcare professionals, the voluntary sector, local government and people with learning disabilities, their families and carers. Sir Stephen’s report makes a series of recommendations for the NHS, local government, regulators and the Government, that include a robust NHS commissioning framework to support people with learning disabilities and autism moving out of hospitals and into the community.
“The Winterbourne View scandal shocked the nation,” said Sir Stephen in the report.
“People are still angry and frustrated that more people with learning disabilities are being placed in institutional care than moved into the community.
“We urge immediate action, to close all Winterbourne-style institutions and ramp up community provision. We need a new Charter of Rights to empower people with learning disabilities and their families, and give them the right to challenge the system. We need that system to have the courage to act on these recommendations, and not to promise another false dawn. The time for talk is over. It’s time for people with learning disabilities or autism and their families to be put first.”
The report’s recommendations include:
- the introduction of a Charter of Rights for people with learning disabilities and/or autism and their families;
- giving people with learning disabilities and their families a ‘right to challenge’ decisions and the right to request a personal budget;
- a requirement for local decision-makers to follow a mandatory framework that sets out who is responsible for which services and how they will be held to account, including improved data collection and publication;
- a planned closure programme of inappropriate institutional in-patient facilities supporting patient choice;
- improved training and education for NHS, local government and provider staff; and
- the founding of a social investment fund to build capacity in community-based services.
Following publication of the report, care and support minister Norman Lamb said the horrors of Winterbourne View had exposed serious failures in the care of people with learning disabilities and autism and the report made it clear that commissioning needed to change radically if services were to improve.
“It is unacceptable for people with learning disabilities and autism to be left in institutions if they can live in their own home or in the community,” said Mr Lamb.
“I am going to consult on changing the law to speed up delivery of the Winterbourne View commitments – to see people living in the community wherever possible and able to challenge decisions about their care.”