A group of more than 150 leading figures in the learning disability sector has responded to the Department of Health’s interim report on Winterbourne View in a letter, and outlined what they believe the Government’s priorities need to be to ensure change happens.

In the letter, addressed to care services minister Paul Burstow, the group welcomed the interim report and some of the acknowledgements and proposed actions in it, such as the need to change the service model of institutional assessment and treatment and develop personalised local services that prevent the need for such provision.

This letter is a follow-up to the one sent by 86 signatories in the wake of the Winterbourne View scandal last year, which called for “clear and quick action to address the systemic service failings that led to such abuse.”

However, they also noted that, 12 months on from Winterbourne View, despite outrage from the Government and others, little has changed – as evidenced by the Care Quality Commission’s inspections of ‘assessment and treatment’ units that found that most fail to meet basic standards.

In the letter, the group note the way forward they believe is crucial to make change happen: “Past progress has been achieved through a combination of clear national targets, active practical support for local change, and robust monitoring. We urge you to ensure that in the final report, if not prior to that, all three elements form part of the Government-led response.”

The group also called for a programme, phased over 2 or 3 years, to significantly reduce the number of NHS funded in-patient beds and to be replaced by community-based services.

Signatories of the letter include: Rob Grieg, chief executive of the National Development Team for Inclusion; self-advocates Cllr Gavin Harding and Amanda Platts; Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap; cross-bench peer and former nurse Dame Audrey Emerson and Professor Eric Emerson from the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University.

A sub-group of the signatories will send a more detailed response to the interim report to the Government in due course. The signatories and added it would welcome the opportunity to discuss the proposals in more detail with Burstow.