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The Society for Children
and Adults with Learning
Disabilities and their Families

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Public Accounts Committee Report: DoH Failures in Community Support

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has been monitoring  Department of Health’s efforts in moving people with a learning disability out of mental health hospitals and into the community. Two years ago the Committee found that progress had been poor but was promised improvements. It has just published its latest findings (26th April) in a report entitled ‘Local support for people with a learning disability’ , which finds only little progress.

We recommend that you start on the Committee’s official webpage, which has links to background information , to the report in full, as well as the Report Summary and the report’s Conclusions and Recommendations. 

To give you a feel for the report here are those Conclusions and Recommendations in abbreviated form:

  • There is much to be done to achieve targets to reduce the number of beds in mental health hospitals for people with a learning disability

Recommendation: Starting in July 2017, NHS England should update the Committee annually on its progress to reduce the number of beds in mental health hospitals.

  • Care and treatment reviews are not working as they should

Recommendation: NHS England should report to the Committee in six months on the effectiveness of its refreshed care and treatment policy. This report should reflect feedback from families and people with a learning disability who have had a review.

  • Money is not yet following the patient to pay for support in the community

Recommendation: NHS England should set out how its new arrangements will work in practice to move money from health to local authorities more quickly.

  • Proposed changes to the local housing allowance pose a real risk to the key aim of the Transforming Care programme to move people into community based care

Recommendation: We look to the Department to keep its commitment to act as a champion within Whitehall for people with a learning disability, and secure the right outcome for them on the issue of supported housing. It should work urgently with the Department for Communities and Local Government to resolve the matter by the end of July 2017.

  • People with a learning disability and their families are not adequately supported to be advocates for their care

Recommendation: NHS England should set out how it will ensure that patients and families are supported to advocate for themselves or have access to effective advocacy.

  • People with a learning disability who live in the community have patchy access to health care and limited opportunities to participate in the community, for example, by having a job

Recommendation: The Department should set out a cross-government strategy for improving access to health care and opportunities to participate in the community, including employment, as well as how it will measure the effectiveness of this strategy.

Unfortunately, but predictably, amidst all the coverage of the  general election, this report has not received the media attention it deserves!

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