Latest figures still show more people going into units than coming out

Bella Travis and Gemma Grant work on Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation's Out of Sight campaign. Here they look at the latest NHS England figures on the number of people with a learning disability in inpatient settings and what you can do to help get change.


The Government has been clear that ’hospitals are not homes’ and has said people with learning disabilities and behaviour that challenges should be moved out of places like Winterbourne View and get appropriate support and services in their local communities. This was meant to happen by 1st June 2014 but this deadline was spectacularly missed. 
NHS England began collecting and publishing quarterly data in December 2013, in order to track progress. This data shows the number of people with a learning disability in inpatient settings funded by NHS commissioners in England.

To date the NHS figures have been deeply concerning. They have shown that things are getting worse: more people are going into these places than are coming out. Unfortunately, the latest (fourth) quarterly data released on 14th November, continues the trend.

The data reveals:

  • More people with a learning disability are being admitted into assessment and treatment units than are moving out; 404 people were admitted, 323 were transferred out of units.
  • 35% (920) of patients don’t have a transfer date.
  • The most common reason for someone not having a transfer date is ‘clinical decisions’.
  • Of the 1680 people with a transfer date, 44% will have to wait between 1 and 5 years to move.
  • 5% (142) people in assessment and treatment units are children. There are 46 more children in inpatient units than when the first set of quarterly data was published. 

Professor Eric Emerson has looked closely at the data. He said: ‘It is extremely depressing data in relation to:

  • Overall numbers (no signs of any real decline) and
  • The very limited extent to which the majority of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), who are responsible for funding almost half of the placements, appear to be taking this issue at all seriously. 97 of the 203 CCGs (47%) who have patients in these settings have reported that none have an agreed transfer date.’


Why change must happen

The Serious Case Review into Winterbourne View and the Learning Disability Census 2013 detailed report show that people with a learning disability and behaviour that challenges are at significant risk of abuse and neglect in inpatient settings.

Shockingly, we know that people are dying in these places. The inquest into the death of Stephanie Bincliffe , a 25 year old young woman who died in an assessment and treatment unit has just concluded.

The need for change could not be more urgent.

NHS England commissioned Sir Stephen Bubb to make recommendations to help drive change. The Bubb report has been published today.

We, and the many families who have a loved one in an inpatient unit, or a loved one at risk of being sent to an inpatient unit, await NHS England’s response. There must be action that makes a difference to people’s lives.


Take action!

If you feel strongly about these issues and want to help get change, make yourself heard by the parliamentary candidates in your local area. You could:

  • Ask your candidates to write to NHS England calling for them to urgently act on the Bubb report recommendations.
  • Ask your candidates to write to the Department of Health and support Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation’s call for an Independent Inquiry into the death of any person with a learning disability in an inpatient unit.
  • Share your story and tell your candidates what matters to you.

Email your candidates here.



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