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

NAO report claims patients ‘badly let down’ by government’s failure to meet post-Winterbourne View reforms

winterbourne 180x120A National Audit Office (NAO) report has claimed that despite key commitments outlined in 2012’s Winterbourne View Concordat the government has failed to achieve it’s central target of moving people with a learning disability and challenging behaviour out of Assessment and Treatment Units.

The new report entitled “Care services for people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour” concludes that this failure was partly due to there being no mechanisms for systematically pooling resources to build sufficient capacity in the community for this to happen. It states that so far there has been no financial incentive for local commissioners to bring such patients home.

Among it’s key recommendations the National Audit Office states every patient must have a discharge plan and that local areas should work with NHS England and pool budgets to make joint decisions on care, which would incentivise the joining up of health and social care budgets.

Commenting on the findings, Chief Executive at Mencap Jan Tregelles said: “The National Audit Office report confirms what many of us have known for some time that the government, NHS England and local authorities have failed to support people with a learning disability who display challenging behaviour to move out of inappropriate settings like Winterbourne View and back to their communities.

“The NAO’s report highlights that despite significant public funds and resources, there has been an abject failure to deliver the change needed. Thousands of people with learning disabilities remain in units for on average stay of 5.4 years, often far from their loved ones at risk of assault, over medication and being kept in isolation.”

Learn from their failings
The National Audit Office report follows the “The Transforming Care for People with Learning Disabilities – Next Steps” report which was published on 29 January 2015. In the report NHS England, and partners, outline the latest plan to substantially reduce the number of people with a learning disability and challenging behaviour placed in hospital, reducing the length of time those admitted spend there, and enhancing the quality of both hospital and community settings.

Viv Cooper, Chief Executive at the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, added: “Following the NAO’s report NHS England and its partners must learn from their failings and reassure people with a learning disability and their families that they will put in place a robust implementation plan to meet the challenge and deadlines set down by the NAO.

“The recently published report by NHS England and its partners is not fit for purpose. It failed to set out a timetabled nationwide closure programme of in-patient settings, and did not deliver any new money for investment in and development of local services. People with a learning disability and behaviour that challenges must be moved out of inappropriate places and returned to their communities where they receive the right support as a matter of urgency. Progress must be measured not by words and process but by the impact on people’s lives.”

Further to this, in a letter published today in The Daily Telegraph, families of the victims abused at Winterbourne View assessment and treatment unit, families of people stuck in similar places, and leading charities expressed their concern at a lack of clear plan with achievable deadlines.

Download the full report at: www.nao.org.uk/report/care-services-for-people-with-learning-disabilities-and-challenging-behaviour/

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