Majority of learning disability patients experience negative incidents in inpatient units

Health and Social Care Information Centre publish findings from its 2015 learning disability census 


More than half the people with learning disabilities and autism in inpatient units have experienced incidents including physical assault, self-harm or seclusion, a census has shown. 

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has found that from July to September this year, 1,670 patients (56%) of the 3,000 patients included on the census reported one or more incidents, which can also include accidents and restraint. 

This was a rise of 1% from 2014, when 1,780 (55%) of patients reported similar incidents in a three-month period. 

The HSCIC’s 2015 learning disability census also showed that 2,155 (72%) of the 3,000 patients asked on 30th Septembeer had received antipsychotic medication in the past 28 days.

But learning disability charity Mencap, which has analysed the figures, said only 28.5% of patients have been recorded as having a psychotic disorder.

This is the third census published by the HSCIC, the initial one being set up in response to the BBC Panorama investigation into abuse of patients with disabilities at Winterbourne View Hospital in 2011. 

The government failed to meet its June 2014 commitment to ensure people with a learning disability or autism were supported to return to the community from inpatient units.

The census found that of the 3,000 people receiving inpatient care on census day 2015; 1,450 patients (48%) have been receiving care since 2013.

The median average length of stay was 554 days, a rise of seven days on the 2014 census. 

It also found that 670 people (22%) were receiving care more than 100 kilometres from their home. 

In October, NHS England published a programme to move care from inpatient units and awarded £45 million to develop support for people in the community.

But Mencap chief executive Jan Tregelles said: ‘Since the abuse scandal of Winterbourne View, there has been little progress in moving people with a learning disability out of inpatient units.’

Steve Sollars, whose son Sam has a learning disability and spent two years at Winterbourne View, said: ‘It is extremely upsetting to know that people are still experiencing what my son went through. 

‘Sam was restrained 45 times over a six-month period, as well as being emotionally tormented by staff there. When he returned home the son I knew was barely recognisable.’

Read the HSCIC report here


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