2,250 People with a learning disability and/or autism remain in inpatient units at risk of abuse

Today NHS Digital published its latest Learning Disability Services Statistics for September. 

We urge Government to commit to proper investment in community support and services to prevent people with a learning disability / autism remaining in inpatient units


  • 2,250 people with a learning disability / autism, of which 235 are children, continue to remain in inpatient units six months after the Transforming Care targets were missed at the end of March


  • 3,530 reported uses of restrictive interventions in July, over 1000 of which were against children 


  • Average length of stay in inpatient units is 5.4 years 


  • 10% of inpatient units for people with a learning disability and/or autism were rated as inadequate by the CQC in 2019 – up from 1% in 2018 


  • 235 children remain in these inpatient units, more than double the number recorded at the start of the Transforming Care programme in 2015. 


Vivien Cooper OBE, CEO of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said: “These figures represent real children and adults – who are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters. These inappropriate environments are used due to a failure to invest in and provide the right support in the right place at the right time. One in every 10 of these services are rated by CQC as providing inadequate care, the lowest level possible. The figures released today show the shocking use of restrictive interventions, including physical, mechanical and chemical restraint, and people being kept in isolation and segregation. Yet again we’re seeing worryingly high levels of restrictive interventions being used against children – over 1000 reported in a month – when the trauma and damaging long-term effects of restraint are widely recognised. We know that these environments only make it worse for children, young people and adults with a learning disability and/or autism when what they really need is high quality and timely support in their community. When will we see the leadership, commitment and action from Government that will actually make a difference?”



Dan Scorer, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:  “The CQC report earlier this week highlighted that these ‘modern day asylums’ are not the right environment for people with a learning disability and/or autism to receive care and support. 10% are now rated as inadequate, up from 1% last year. And yet over 2000 children and adults continue to be locked away – often hundreds of miles from their loved ones, for long periods of time – and we’re seeing an alarmingly high numbers of restrictive interventions being reported each month. The new NHS task force led by Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield is welcome, but must be granted robust powers and the resources needed to tackle the inappropriate use of restrictive interventions and ensure that the right community support is developed. In the Queen’s Speech, we heard more promises about reforming social care, but yet again people with a learning disability were absent from the narrative and there’s still no clear cross-government plan on how to deliver the specialist care in the community that is so desperately needed. This human rights scandal has to end. People with a learning disability and/or autism have the right to live close to their loved ones with the right support, enabling them to live fulfilling lives” 


To see the Infographic of September's data please see here

The full statement in collaboration with Mencap will be published on the Mencap site shortly

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