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Patients with learning disabilities still in long-stay hospitals

Some 88% still awaiting transfer date, new data shows

Jo Carlowe

Friday, 27 June 2014

Large numbers of patients with learning disabilities are staying in hospital too long with no transfer date. 

NHS England has today published a more detailed analysis of the quarterly ‘Assuring Transformation’ data published on 16 May 2014 which informs on the progress on the NHS commitments in the Winterbourne View Concordat as of 31 March 2014. 

The Concordat is an action plan, published by the Department of Health in December 2012, to ensure that all people with learning disabilities receive the health care and support they need in the most appropriate setting. One of the aims of the Concordat was to put in measures to rapidly reduce the numbers of people with learning disabilities who end up unnecessarily in hospital and who stay there too long.

But today’s analysis shows that, as at March 31 2014, 88% of people admitted in the 12 months after March 1 2013 do not have a transfer date.

Additionally, 81% of people who have not had a formal review in six months have been in hospital for over a year. 

The analysis found that 1,702 patients do not have a planned transfer date due to a clinical decision, with 534 patients in high or medium secure services many of whom are subject to a Ministry of Justice order. 

Some 35% of patients who were in hospital on 1 April 2013 have now been transferred. Of a total of 2,615 patients, 256 have a transfer date.

Experts reviewing the situation say that while some progress has been made, the measures need to be adopted far quicker. 

Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “Some people with learning disabilities have complex individual needs and need care planned to meet those needs. But a hospital is not a home and patients should never be in hospital longer than necessary.  Much more needs to be done to ensure that each patient receives a regular review and has a plan and out of hospital care package in place so that they can return to their families and communities as soon as possible.”

In May, Jane Cummings, wrote to all Area Teams and Clinical Commissioning Groups to ask for a progress update on transfer dates for people with learning disabilities who are in hospital settings.

It showed that 34% of people whose care is commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups have a planned discharge date within 12 months, the majority within six months.

NHS England also wrote to its Area Teams in June setting out six priority actions. These are:

  1. All patients are on a register
  2. A local care co-ordinator is assigned to each patient
  3. Estimated transfer dates and care plan reviews
  4. A patient tracking list to schedule reviews for people who have not been assessed for six months
  5. CCGs with five or fewer patients should by the end of June 2014 ensure that all have a transfer date
  6. Patients in non-secure hospital settings for two or more years should be prioritised for review

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