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

Charities renew pressure to move people with learning disabilities out of inpatient units

winterbourne 180x120Charities Mencap, the Challenging Behaviour Foundation and the National Autistic Society have produced new campaign guidance for groups and individuals wanting to apply pressure on NHS England and local areas to deliver change for thousands of people with a learning disability, autism and/or challenging behaviour currently stuck in inpatient units.

The ‘Making it Happen’ guide highlights NHS England’s promise to make sure 35-50% of inpatient beds close, and the right support is built in the community by 2019. It outlines how campaigners can help ensure these promises are met through the new Transforming Care Partnerships, which have been set up to implement NHS England’s plan, ‘Building the Right Support’.

This renewed campaign comes as it is more than five years since the Winterbourne View scandal, where shocking abuse against people with a learning disability was exposed. Since then, despite repeated promises – and strategies, reports and initiatives – by the government and NHS England to move people out of inpatient units and back into their communities, the number resident there has remained relatively consistent.

In a bid to achieve the promises laid out in NHS England’s ‘Building the Right Support’, 48 Transforming Care Partnerships (TCPs) have been set up across England to move people back into the community. TCPs were required to produce a plan to show how they’ll do this by July. This new guide will help campaigners to contact their local TCP about their local plan, ask what is being done in their area to develop the right support, and apply pressure to ensure promises are kept.

In a joint statement, Rossanna Trudgian, head of campaigns and activism at Mencap; Viv Cooper, CEO of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, and Tom Madders, head of campaigns and community engagement at the National Autistic Society, said: “Far too many people with a learning disability, autism and/or challenging behaviour are stuck in inpatient units, over five years on from Winterbourne View, where they are at increased risk of abuse and neglect.

“TCPs are the latest move in a long line of promises from the government and NHS England to ensure people with a learning disability, autism and/or challenging behaviour move out of inpatient units and get the right support in the community. So far, many deadlines have been missed. Individuals and families have had to wait too long. It is vital that NHS England and its TCPs deliver the change urgently needed.

“We’re urging groups and individuals to use the Making It Happen guide to put pressure on their local TCP and hold NHS England to account. We want to see real change, so that people with a learning disability, autism and/or challenging behaviour live fulfilling lives, with the right support in the community.”

Families whose loved ones are, or have been, stuck in inpatient units supported the guide and wrote the foreword. In it, they said: “This guide, ‘Making it Happen’, is for campaigners who want to make sure things change for people with a learning disability, autism and/or challenging behaviour. The new Transforming Care Partnerships are a real opportunity we need to use to achieve change locally, but we can’t do this alone.

“We need campaigners like you to support us by taking action. As parents, we call on you to help us hold NHS England to account, through the new Transforming Care Partnerships. Promises have been made and they must be delivered.

“Getting people out of units is only one part of the issue. Support must be provided to stop people going into units, and a good life must be made possible in the community. This guide was written to give you some practical things to do to make change happen. It’s time we got our loved ones home.”

You can download the Making it Happen guidance here.

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