5 Jul 2012

Half CQC inspected services failing essential standards: not another Winterbourne please

Art spotted in Norway
One year on from the BBC’s Panorama programme, which exposed abuse of people with a learning disability at Winterbourne View, a privately run hospital near Bristol, people with a learning disability continue to remain in large, out-of-town institutional-style services for long periods of time, isolated and at risk of abuse. Mencap have launched an e-action asking people to email their MP to get them to call on Andrew Lansley to ensure that people with a learning disability are protected from abuse.  Go to http://bit.ly/NVtsBS

Photo: it says alot about access to services, although the issues are clearly way beyond questions of just physical access in this issue.

The DH report notes that “even without the detailed findings of what happened at Winterbourne View …, we can clearly see… that the health and care system is not meeting the needs of people with learning disabilities or autism and behaviour which challenges, and there is a vast gap between national policy and practice on the ground”. It notes that some of the practice identified does not respect the human rights of patients, their rights under the NHS Constitution or the principles of personalisation or the Mental Health Act. This interim report published before the final findings about Winterbourne View is a damning indictment by the DH.

Here's part of the letter by Mencap for MPs:

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now published an overview of the 145 unannounced inspections of hospitals and care homes for people with a learning disability that it carried out as a result of the programme. The government has also published an interim report with recommendations for change.

The two reports confirm that far too many people are shut away for far too long – many years in some cases. Shockingly, half of the services inspected by the CQC were failing to meet essential standards around care, welfare and protecting people from abuse. Click read more to see more.
The government’s interim report acknowledges the failings and says that services must improve. But promises to do better are not enough. I have little confidence that the actions set out in the interim report will lead to the change that’s needed – while things remain as they are, people with a learning disability continue to suffer. It can’t just be left to local action: we need strong leadership from the government.

The government’s final review, due to be published in the autumn, is a vital opportunity to fundamentally change the way in which people with a learning disability are supported. Long-stay hospitals for people with a learning disability were mainly closed during the 1990s. It is unacceptable that in 2012, people with a learning disability are still being institutionalised, far from home, leading to the severing of family links and a high risk of abuse.

Please contact the Secretary of State for Health and urge him to ensure that the government’s final review includes clear targets and a robust programme of action to make change happen, including the phased closure of large institutional-style services for people with a learning disability, and their replacement with local services. 

Please make him aware of my views about how we must make sure that people with a learning disability are protected from abuse and supported in their communities, near their families and support networks.

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