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Too many people with learning disabilities being admitted to hospital, says lead nurse

Too many people with learning disabilities are still being admitted into hospital as inpatients, an NHS nurse leader tells the Learning Disability Practice conference in Manchester.
Hazel Watson

Too many people with learning disabilities are still being admitted into hospital as inpatients, says an NHS nurse leader.

NHS England head of mental health and learning disability Hazel Watson said a national plan to transform care for the learning disabled could do better.

Significant numbers of people are using inpatient services now 2,500 people with learning disabilities, she told the Learning Disability Practice conference in Manchester.

Cross-country variations

Ms Watson said care and treatment reviews (CTRs) had helped hundreds of people be discharged but there was enormous variation across the country.

For the eighth consecutive month in a row, numbers are coming down and we are discharging more people than we are admitting she said.

The national programme is part of a three-year initiative to enable people to live more independent lives, closer to home, with more say about the

Too many people with learning disabilities are still being admitted into hospital as inpatients, says an NHS nurse leader.

NHS England head of mental health and learning disability Hazel Watson said a national plan to transform care for the learning disabled ‘could do better.’

‘Significant numbers of people are using inpatient services now – 2,500 people with learning disabilities,’ she told the Learning Disability Practice conference in Manchester.

Cross-country variations

Ms Watson said care and treatment reviews (CTRs) had helped hundreds of people be discharged but there was enormous variation across the country.

‘For the eighth consecutive month in a row, numbers are coming down and we are discharging more people than we are admitting’ she said.

The national programme is part of a three-year initiative to enable people to live more independent lives, closer to home, with more say about the support they receive.

Ms Watson said the programme’s aims were to stop those with learning disabilities from dying prematurely and from being kept in specialist hospitals.

Early diagnosis

She pointed out no one dies of having a learning disability, but said people do die because symptoms are not picked up early enough.

‘We are still admitting too many people into hospital,’ she said. ‘We still don’t have enough alternatives to say we could support you in a different way – particularly children and young people.

‘There are somewhere between 130 to 150 under-18s in specialist hospitals, by virtue of having learning disabilities, and the experience for some people and their families is still poor.’

Ms Watson said the future would involve fewer inpatient services, but these would be the best they could be, and staffed and led by learning disability nurses.

‘This is a critical role going forward – we want more posts to enable learning disability nurses to be system navigators.

‘The value of learning disability nursing is rising through the system.’


Further information:

How the NHS is transforming care for people with learning disabilities

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