Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport and former Minister at the Department of Health and Social Care, has asked the Minister to improve care and reduce the number of people with learning disabilities and autism in mental health in-patient settings.
The Transforming Care Programme, introduced in 2015, aimed to reduce the number of people with learning disabilities and autism in in-patient mental health facilities by 50%, and to help them live independent, satisfying and valued lives outside of hospitals.
The programme aims to help people living with a learning disability or autism to have a home within their community, develop and maintain relationships and get the support needed for a safe, healthy and rewarding life.
Caroline raised the issue that since the introduction of the programme, the number of child mental health in-patients with learning disabilities and autism has in fact nearly doubled from 110 to 200. Caroline urged the Minister to refocus efforts to tackle this.
In DHSC oral questions, Caroline asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Mental Health and Women’s Health Strategy:
“Its 8 years since the Transforming Care Programme started with a target of halving the number of people with a learning disability and autistic people in in-patient mental health settings by the year 2024, and yet according to the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, since then the number of children in these settings has doubled.
“The average length of stay is 5.4 years, and 12 years on from the Winterbourne View Scandal, reports of appalling standards of care are all too frequent.
“Does the Minister agree with me that people with learning disabilities and autistic people deserve so much better?”
The responding Minister, Maria Caulfield, said:
“Can I thank my Rt. Hon. Friend for her work in this place. Our priority is always to ensure that both children and adults with a learning disability and autistic people are receiving safe and high quality care.
“We have, when you include children and adults, over 2000 people still waiting to be discharged from inpatient facilities, but that is a reduction of 30% and we are making progress.
“I am meeting with individual ICBs to go through their patients that are waiting to be discharged to see what more support we can give to make that happen as quickly as possible.”