Transforming Care data shows a high number of children and adults remain in inpatient units amid concerns over increased risk during Covid 19

At least 2,060 people with a learning disability and/or autism remain in inpatient units as charities warn they are at even greater risk during coronavirus crisis


  • At least 2,060 people with a learning disability and/or autism remain in inpatient units as charities warn they are at even greater risk during coronavirus crisis.
  • 200 children with a learning disability and/or autism are in inpatient units – up from 190 last month.
  • People with a learning disability and/or autism continue to be admitted to inpatient units during lockdown – 80 admissions in May 2020.
  • Delayed discharges continue with at least 120 people still stuck in hospital when they are ready for discharge in May 2020.
  • The average total length of stay in inpatient units is 7 years.
  • 3,265 recorded instances of restrictive interventions (like physical, mechanical and chemical restraint) being used in one month (March 2020), of which 570 were against children. This is likely to be just the “tip of the iceberg” as only data for 3 out of 14 private/independent providers and 27 out of 55 NHS providers is available.

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

The data published today shows that there is still a high number of children, young people and adults in inpatients units.  People with learning disabilities in inpatient units are at high risk of abuse and the Joint Committee on Human Rights report published last week concluded that this risk is even greater in the current Covid crisis.  The report cites increased risks of violations to a number of human rights, including the right to life, freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, liberty and security, respect for family life and non-discrimination.

Since Winterbourne View in 2011, the Government, NHSE and CQC have all made commitments time and time again to Transform Care, yet, now when the stakes are higher than ever, they continue to fail to do so and far too many people remain in inpatient units at risk of abuse.

Health, education, and social care need to work together now to address the issues and protect the rights of children and adults with learning disabilities. We hear a lot about the “new normal”- this provides an opportunity to ensure that children, adults and their families get the right support in the right place at the right time. This must happen now, with robust delivery plans across Government Departments and clear lines of accountability to ensure the right support is available at the right time in the community.

Find the data from NHS Digital here

View our infographic here

Related news

Contact us

If you support someone with a severe learning disability whose behaviour challenges you can contact the CBF Family Support service on 0300 666 0126 or email us at

Family Support Service