There is an “absence of any tangible progress” since the care of people in learning disabilities in England was reviewed.
Following the care home abuse scandal at Winterbourne, Sir Stephen Bubb headed a review into care home abuse, which was published in November, reports the BBC.
England’s chief nursing officer said improvements must be made “at a fast but safe pace”.
Sir Stephen said that although the number of people being discharged from Winterbourne-style institutions was now greater than those being admitted, “it remains abundantly clear that a revolving door of discharges and admissions will continue unless a closure and transition programme is acted on”.
He said although NHS England had made it a “top strategic objective” to improve conditions for people with learning disabilities, “the pace of change remains slow, and this is unacceptable”.
He said this six-month review should be treated as a “warning call” ahead of a “formal stock take of actions” in a further six months’ time.
“The core recommendation of my report was the need to close these institutions as quickly as possible and you can’t close them until there is good strong community provision – people with learning disabilities and their families deserve action now. There’s huge scepticism that anything will happen. NHS England needs to prove them wrong. And until I see action on the ground I will continue to (hold the) government to account.”
In a joint statement, Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, and Viv Cooper, chief executive of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said change would not happen unless community services were improved.
“This must include investing in a highly skilled community workforce to support children and adults with a learning disability to meet their individual needs,” they said.
Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England and chairwoman of the Transforming Care Delivery Board, said: “All the agencies involved in this work are clear that while a great deal of progress has been made we still have lots to do to transform and improve care for people with learning disabilities. We are committed to driving through changes at a fast but safe pace, we are on track to do so, and I will be setting out the closure and re-provision plans in October as previously announced.”
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