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Plans to move patients out of long-stay hospitals

Measures made to prevent repeat of Winterbourne scandal

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The government has this week announced its intention to move people out of long-stay hospitals.

A commitment to move out every person with a learning disability or autism who does not need to be there was made by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb.

Publishing the government’s final report with recommendations aiming to prevent a repeat of the abuse uncovered at the Winterbourne View private hospital, he pledged to set out plans for holding Boards of Directors to account for poor care and failing standards. He said that there is a national imperative to act decisively and end the scandal of poor care.

The report outlines a programme of 60 actions to transform services, including:

  • Reviewing the cases of all patients in current placements by June 2013;
  • A commitment that everyone inappropriately being cared for in hospital will move to community-based support no later than June 2014;
  • Bringing forward plans to hold Boards, Directors, and senior Managers accountable for the safety and quality of care that their organisations provide – to be delivered by spring 2013;
  • Introducing high quality care and support services in every area, including production of joint plans to ensure all people with learning disabilities or autism and mental health conditions or behaviour described as challenging receive care and support that meets best practice by April 2014;
  • Issuing new guidance on the use of restraint; and
  • Ensuring that people with learning disabilities and their families are involved in all decisions about their care and support.

Norman Lamb said: ”One of the most shocking revelations to come out of this case is the fact that many of the 3,000 people with learning disabilities who are in ‘hospitals’ – often for years – should not be there.

“We have a clear responsibility to bring this to an end. Nothing short of a complete change of culture is needed.

“People with learning disabilities or autism, who also have mental health conditions or challenging behaviour can be – and have a right to be – given the support and care they need in the community, near to family and friends.

“It is a national imperative that we act decisively. This is why we have set out a timetable that, by June of next year, all patients will have been assessed and moved to live in the community close to their families wherever this is possible”.

Local health providers will have six months to prepare individual care plans for people currently in hospital, and a further 12 months to find ways to place people back into being cared for in their communities.

Commenting on the report Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Learning Disability charity Mencap, said:

“The horrific abuse uncovered at Winterbourne View shone a spotlight on a care system that has failed some of the most vulnerable people with a learning disability. In today’s report, the Government shows that it has listened to families and campaigners by committing to a national programme of change.”

The Department of Health will report on progress by December 2013.

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