Learning Disability Patients Facing Long Waits for Care Reviews
Health services are struggling to deliver care reviews to people with learning difficulties
A group of MPs has warned that care reviews, designed to ensure learning disabled people are not being inappropriately kept in hospital units, are on the decline with just 39% of an estimated 2,500 inpatients receiving care and treatment reviews within six months; the six month timescale was imposed by NHS England policy. Furthermore, one in five who were in hospital as of February 2017 had received no review at all, however this was an improvement from the 47% who had received no review in January 2016.
Introduced two years ago as part of the government’s Transforming Care programme, the care and treatment reviews were designed to increase learning disability support in the community, however the committee found that progress was still too slow on moving care out of hospitals.
It has been estimated that £10.8m funding could have been released, helping to build out of hospital options for learning disability care, however MPs discovered that only £1m had been used. The committee have also warned that people may be unable to afford the specialist accommodation required to support community care options, due to the forthcoming housing benefit caps.
The report also found that only 23% of people with learning disabilities were registered with their GPs and just 5.8% known to local authorities were in employment, leading to the Department for Health calling a launch of a cross-government strategy to improve access to healthcare and employment for those with learning disabilities.
Welcoming the committee’s call to improve access to care and community participation was Rob Greig, Chief executive of the National Development Team for Inclusion.
“For the last seven years there has been no national policy focus,” he said. “Attention has been taken up entirely by Transforming Care, which hasn’t so far delivered what it’s supposed to and is only concerned with a fairly small number of people.”
Chief executive of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, Viv Cooper, agreed with Greig, explaining that the slow flow of money from the NHS to councils was causing a “general lack of investment in early intervention, prevention, and a range of local support and services”, leaving people vulnerable to being placed into inpatient care, due to families struggling to access suitable support at the right time.