Press release

Programme to move people out of long stay hospitals

Tough new corporate accountability proposals in response to Winterbourne View.

A commitment to move out of long stay hospital every person with a learning disability or autism who does not need to be there was made today 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.

Real change to how people with learning disabilities are treated will follow from the report, which outlines an ambitious 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 as quickly as possible, and 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 - including exploring whether tougher regulatory or criminal sanctions are necessary - 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, and that their views are both sought and heard.

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. This will result in a dramatic reduction over the next two years in the number of people with learning disabilities or autism remaining in hospital settings.

Safeguarding will also improve as the Care Quality Commission continues to strengthen inspections and regulation of hospitals and care homes for people with learning disabilities. This will include unannounced inspections involving people who use services and their families, and steps to ensure that services are in line with the agreed model of care.

David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said:

“It is right that the appalling abuse of patients at Winterbourne View is leading to changes right across the system to ensure services are based on people’s individual needs and allow them real choices about their care and how they live their lives. What happened at Winterbourne View was unacceptable. CQC has already taken a range of actions, including setting up a specialist whistleblowing team. We are committed to doing more, including continuing to make unannounced inspections of learning disability and mental health services and taking action to ensure the quality and safety of services and drive improvement. We’ll continue to involve people who use services and family carers in our work, and we will check that the care being delivered is in line with their aspirations.”

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.

“But words are not enough. To achieve this, commissioners in local government and the health service must take urgent, joint action to develop local services, provide support to children and families from early on, and ensure that no one else is sent away.”

Norman Lamb continued:

“This case has revealed weaknesses in the system’s ability to hold the leaders of care organisations to account.  This is a gap in the care regulatory framework, and we intend to close it”.

A comprehensive, timetabled programme of action to drive forward improvement in services has been agreed. 50 groups, covering a wide range of organisations involved in the care and support of people with learning disabilities and autism, have signed up to a Concordat that will set out these goals. Norman Lamb will personally chair a board to oversee progress.

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

Notes to Editors:

 For media enquiries contact the Department of Health media centre:

Thomas Skinner 0207 210 5317

Alison Langley    0207 210 5375

A full copy of the report can be found on the Department of Health website.

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