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

Progress still slow in moving people with learning disabilities out of Winterbourne View-style units

Winterbourne ViewProgress in moving people with learning disabilities out of Winterbourne View-style assessment and treatment units remains slow, according to new NHS figures.

The second set of quarterly data, which shows the position as at March 31, found that of 2,615 patients in assessment and treatment-style units, only 256 have a transfer date, of which 182 are before June 1.

The data revealed that 1,702 patients do not have a planned transfer date due a clinical decision preventing it. This could be because they are too ill or possibly a danger to themselves or the public. Meanwhile, 534 patients are in high or medium secure services and most are subject to a Ministry of Justice order.

Of the 211 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and 10 NHS England Area Teams responsible for specialised commissioning of secure mental health and child and adolescent mental health services, there was a 100% response rate from those who were asked to submit information.

The figures also reveal a slight increase in the number of people with learning disabilities living in such units. There were 2,577 people resident in assessment and treatment units on December 31, 2013, compared to 2,615 on March 31. Likewise, in the previous figures, 260 people had a moving date, compared to 256 this time around. However, the number set to move out before June 1 had increased from 172 to 182.

In December 2012, in the government’s response to the Winterbourne View scandal, where 11 former carers were convicted of abusing residents, it was pledged that nobody would be inappropriately placed in an assessment and treatment style unit by June 2014.

Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: “These are patients with complex and very specific needs, some of who are in secure hospitals and will have longer-term treatment plans. It is vital that commissioners provide person-centred care in the best setting for each individual and that care is reviewed on a regular basis.

“We are continuing to work on reviewing the care and treatment of the most vulnerable and complex people, and supporting them, their families, and commissioners to provide person-centred care for those individuals that is appropriate and timely.”

The NHS notes that where it is agreed that a person should move into the community, it can take several months to find the right accommodation and ensure all the necessary arrangements are in place to support them. For example, patients sometimes require a period of assimilation, with transition to the community, phased over a period of months.

In addition, generic and specialist community based support needs to be in place to support individuals. Commissioners may not be able to set a transfer date until these issues have been resolved.

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