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Over 2000 People With A Learning Disability And/Or Autism Remain In Inpatient Units While Emergency Coronavirus Bill Risks More Being Admitted

Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation call for urgent action and emergency investment in social care to stop more children and adults with a learning disability and/or autism being admitted into inpatient units during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

  • At least 2,170 people with a learning disability / autism continue to remain in inpatient units, of which 1,935 are adults and 235 children

 

  • Little change in the number of admissions - with 95 admissions in February

 

  • Discharge delays continue135 people with a learning disability / autism who should be back home in their community

 

  • An increased number of reported uses of restrictive interventions – 3,535 in one month, of which 755 were against children. This is likely to be just the “tip of the iceberg” as only data for 4 out of 15 private/independent providers and 27 out of 56 NHS providers is reported.

 

  • The average total length of stay in in-patient units is 5.5 years.

 

According to data released today from NHS Digital, 2,170 people with a learning disability and/or autism remain in inpatient units in February, a decrease of  15 on  the previous month. At least 1,930 adults and 235 children continue remain there. 

 

Vivien Cooper OBE, CEO of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said:

Over 2000 people with a learning disability and/or autism remain in inpatient units at significant risk of human rights abuses. The current Coronavirus outbreak is exacerbating this already difficult situation for many individuals and their families and the Government must provide assurance that this group is on their agenda as a high-risk vulnerable population. It is important that there is proactive planning to address issues that will arise in care, support and services due to the pandemic.

“The coming weeks and months will be very difficult, and we will likely see staff shortages, fewer inspections, closed services and restricted family visits - a combination that equates to a breeding ground for increased restrictive practice, overmedication and poor support. There is also a risk of increased admissions due to emergency changes to the Care Act and the rules around sectioning under the Mental Health Act, just when the opposite should be happening.

“We are calling on the Government to protect the rights of people with a learning disability and/or autism in the Emergency Coronavirus Bill. There is an opportunity now to prioritise robust measures to support and protect individuals and their families and ensure that there are no backwards steps in a Transforming Care programme that has made such painfully slow progress.”

 

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

 “We understand the need for emergency measures in the short-term response to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, any measures taken must have the interests and safety of the most vulnerable in our society at its heart. We need urgent assurances from Government that these emergency changes to the Care Act and Mental Health Act, if used, will not result in more people with a learning disability falling through the gap when it comes to accessing vital social care support and that we do not end up with more people with a learning disability and/or autism locked away in inpatient units. Figures out today show that there are still over 2000 people with a learning disability and/or autism locked away in inpatient units, often hundreds of miles away from their families. Should emergency powers be used, we want a commitment from the Government that once this crisis period passes that there will be an urgent review into any changes to the care packages of people with a learning disability. While the Chancellor of the Exchequer has promised “anything it takes” for the NHS, the social care sector also needs urgent emergency funding to help meet demand and keep people safe during this crisis. The health, care and quality of life of people with a learning disability must be prioritised in both the short and the long term.”

 

 

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