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16.07.20

Funding to help discharge people with learning disabilities or autism

The UK government has announced £62m funding to help accelerate the discharging from hospital of people with learning disabilities or autism who could be better supported in their community.

Announced by Health and Care Secretary Matt Hancock, the funding will be awarded to local councils to accelerate the discharging of patients with learning disabilities or autism (or both) from mental health hospitals into the community.

Funding can be spent on costs associated with discharge, including establishing community teams, funding accommodation and staff training.

A new independent oversight panel has also been appointed to examine findings from a series of independent case reviews for people with a learning disability or autism who were identified as being in long-term segregation, which were overseen by Baroness Hollins upon instruction from the Health Secretary last year.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Far too many people with learning disabilities and autistic people remain in hospital when they could receive better-suited support in their communities, closer to their homes and loved ones.

“So, I am delighted this new funding will help local authorities to support discharges into the community more quickly for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.”

Minister for Care Helen Whately added: “People with a learning disability and autistic people should have the best possible care, and I am determined to put an end to the health inequalities they too often face.

“Few of us would choose to remain in a hospital bed when we could be receiving better care in our own community. This funding will speed up discharge from hospital wards making a real difference to people’s lives.

“I’d like to thank Baroness Hollins for her important work overseeing independent case reviews of those in long-term segregation and look forward to seeing her recommendations.”

Named the Community Discharge Fund, the funding will be split across three years and will help to move people with learning disabilities and autistic people into more appropriate care: either into less restrictive settings or into the community, where appropriate.

The newly-established oversight panel will make recommendations to transform the care and treatment of people with a learning disability or autism and prevent unnecessary admissions and the use of restrictive practices in future.

The panel held its first meeting on 29 June and will continue to meet throughout the summer to develop its findings and recommendations. It is made up of clinical, psychological and commissioning experts as well as those with a lived experience, including family members and advocates.

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