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11.12.12

Winterbourne action plan launched

The final report on the atrocities at Winterbourne View has been published, and the Government has set out a programme of action to transform services for better care.

The report concludes that staff routinely mistreated and abused patients, that a whistleblower’s concerns were ignored and that leaders were not held to account. Additionally, many of the people in the hospital did not need to be.

By spring 2013 the DH aims to strengthen the accountability of boards of directors and senior managers, and by June 2013 all current placements will be reviewed, with any people who are inappropriately placed in hospital moved to community-based support as soon as possible.

A joint plan will be implemented by April 2014 to ensure quality care for all people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health problems. The CQC will strengthen its programme of inspections and regulation and a new NHS and local government led joint improvement team will be launched.

Care minister Norman Lamb said: “One of the most shocking revelations to come out of this case is the fact that many of the 3,000 people with learning disabilities who are in ‘hospitals’ – often for years – should not be there.

“We have a clear responsibility to bring this to an end. Nothing short of a complete change of culture is needed.

“People with learning disabilities or autism, who also have mental health conditions or challenging behaviour can be – and have a right to be – given the support and care they need in the community, near to family and friends.

“It is a national imperative that we act decisively. This is why we have set out a timetable that, by June of next year, all patients will have been assessed and moved to live in the community close to their families wherever this is possible”.

David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said the organisation was committed to doing more and will continue to involve service users, family and carers in their work.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap, welcomed the Government’s report but said: “Words are not enough. To achieve this, commissioners in local government and the health service must take urgent, joint action to develop local services, provide support to children and families from early on, and ensure that no one else is sent away.”

NHS Confederation interim director of policy Jo Webber labelled the abuse “abhorrent and despicable” and cautioned that changing organisational culture will take more than new guidance.

She said: “It is something that must transcend geography, hierarchy and organisational boundaries.”

Webber also suggested that the timescale for the programme of action may be too short: “Health and care services are already under significant pressure, and a six-month deadline for reviewing and re-commissioning care placements is highly ambitious.”

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