Editorial

No more excuses on institutional care

When the Winterbourne View Hospital scandal was revealed in the Panorama TV documentary – Undercover Care: the Abuse Exposed – in 2011, it shocked the nation.

When the Winterbourne View Hospital scandal was revealed in the Panorama TV documentary – Undercover Care: the Abuse Exposed – in 2011, it shocked the nation.

The idea that vulnerable people could be abused and tormented by the people employed to care for them triggered an immediate response from government. This came in the form of a promise to end the use of institutional care for people with learning disabilities.

The government’s plan to rehouse people into homely environments close to their families was the right thing to do, but its extremely ambitious deadlines were not met, and even now, four and a half years later, there are still more than 2,500 people in assessment and treatment units in England.

Successive governments have not realised the size and complexity of the task

Now England’s chief nursing officer Jane Cummings is in charge of the situation and a new strategy, Building the Right Support, has been published.

The three-year plan is designed to ensure that people with learning disabilities and/or autism will have supported accommodation in ordinary houses in the communities they want to live in.

The government has allocated £45 million to ensure the right support is available to enable people to be discharged from institutional care, including the closure of the only remaining stand-alone hospital Calderstones in Lancashire, which has 223 beds.

Previous attempts to sort out the problem of institutional care have failed because successive governments have not realised the size and complexity of the task – but there can be no excuses for that now.

If this plan is implemented in full and on time, it will be a fitting response to the events at Winterbourne View as it will, at long last, see people with learning disabilities cared for at home, rather than in a home.

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