Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Charities call for urgent review of decisions to keep people with learning disabilities in institutions

Jan Tregelles MencapLearning disability charities have called for an urgent review of all decisions to keep people placed in assessment and treatment units rather than in the community.

This call, by Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, came after NHS England figures revealed that out of 2,577 people with a learning disability and behaviour that challenges living in assessment and treatment units, only 260 have a moving date, of which only 172 are before June 1.

NHS England’s figures also revealed that in more than 1,000 cases, the reason given for why people do not have a planned transfer date is a clinical decision. This can include people with very complex needs, those who are too ill to move, or are possibly a danger to themselves or the public, according to NHS England.

Following the Winterbourne View inquiry, NHS England agreed to “review all current hospital placements and support everyone inappropriately placed in hospital to move to community-based support as quickly as possible, and no later than 1 June 2014”. But the charities are concerned that it appears that NHS England is nowhere close to meeting that deadline.

In a joint statement, Jan Tregelles (pictured), chief executive of Mencap, and Vivien Cooper, chief executive of The Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said: “It is extremely concerning that one year after the programme to move people out of places like Winterbourne View and back to their communities, more than 2,300 people with a learning disability and behaviours that challenge are still in these institutions. The lack of progress to meet the June deadline is shocking and unacceptable.

“We are told that this failure to return people to their communities is owing to ‘clinical decisions’. We know that too often these decisions are made through the lack of a thorough understanding of learning disability and behaviour that challenges, and also a lack of confidence amongst professionals that the right services actually exist in local areas to support someone.

“These should never be reasons to keep vulnerable people trapped in institutions, away from their families and at real risk of abuse. We call for an urgent independent review of every single decision to deny someone the opportunity to live in the community.”

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