The learning disability charity My Life My Choice (MLMC) has formally withdrawn from NHS England’s Care and Treatment Review programme, calling it “a waste of time”.

Ben McCay, Co-Chair of Trustees at MLMC said the charity made the decision to transfer their efforts to their ongoing campaign work, as the CTR programme is “expensive” and delivers “little positive change”.

What is the Care and Treatment Review (CTR) Programme?

The CTR programme came about following the Winterbourne View scandal, when the BBC exposed the abuse and human rights violations of people with learning disabilities at a hospital near Bristol.

At the time, there were approximately 3,400 people with learning disabilities and/or autism living in hospitals across the country. The government promised a "dramatic reduction" in this number, and said more appropriate care would be found closer to home.

To do this, they introduced the CTR programme. Under the programme, all hospital placements were to be reviewed by 1 June 2013, and where care was found to be "inappropriate", patients would be moved to “community-based support” no later than June 2014.

The CTR programme has since continued, providing individual assessments for people with learning disabilities and autism living in the community and in hospitals, but Mr McCay says not enough progress has been made.

Mr McCay recalls: “The responsible government minister at the time said: ‘We should no more tolerate people being placed in inappropriate care settings than we would people receiving the wrong cancer treatment’ and that ‘with the right support, the vast majority of patients can live happy, fulfilled lives close to their own families in their own communities’.”

“Some 11 years after Winterbourne View, over 2,000 people who have a learning disability and/or autism continue to be locked away where they are at increased risk of abuse and neglect. This is not a ‘dramatic reduction’,” he said.

"Enough is enough"

With research by the CQC finding that a lack of suitable care in the community was preventing the discharge of 60% of people in inpatient units, Mr McCay says the charity’s resources would be better utilised by creating and campaigning for more homes in the community.

He told Learning Disability Today: “We want appropriate, good quality care for people in the community, after all, this is what the government and the NHS promised. Funding is not necessarily the issue when secure hospital placements can cost between £3,000-£14,000 per week; this money should be spent on community placements instead.”

MLMC say they will continue to lobby for local and national government, commissioners and the NHS to end CTRs and instead use funding for community provisions.

The charity is now urging others involved in CTR programmes to re-consider their involvement and assess whether their resources could be better utilised.

“We were involved with the CTR programme for far too long and we apologise for that. By being involved we feel that we legitimised the programme and the continued incarceration and abuse of people who should have been living full lives in community settings. We have now drawn a line in the sand, enough is enough.

“It is for other learning disability and self-advocacy organisations to make their own decisions. We call for them to stand with us, but respect their right to make their own decisions,” Mr McCay said.