Learning disability charity Dimensions has welcomed the launch of the government’s ‘Homes not Hospitals’ report but warned that the fact it only covers NHS facilities means the commissioning of inappropriate beds is likely to continue.
The NHS England report, launched last week [read the full story here], announced the closure of up to 50% of NHS long stay hospital beds for people with learning disabilities, and a parallel £45m funding over 3 years for community based support.
However, while Dimensions CEO Steve Scown “strongly welcomes this move” which sees “deeds finally backing up words” he also has concerns about how the private sector will respond.
“Some private sector providers of long stay institutions will be rubbing their hands with glee as the announcement only covers NHS facilities,” he said. “There is nothing to stop the commissioning of similar inappropriate beds outside the NHS.”
A second concern for Scown is the announcement of a dowry arrangement whereby NHS funding automatically transfers to the local authority for people who have been in the institution for 5 years.
He added: “The dowry itself is a good idea. But why wait 5 years? A lower threshold – say, 2 years – would almost invariably be in the interests of the individual.
“It would allow the local authority to consider a broader range of support options sooner, and would also reflect the short term intent of referrals into assessment and treatment units. However, this is not the time to grind that particular axe. Let’s celebrate progress, but be mindful of the unintended consequences.”