Sir Norman Lamb, chair of South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust and a former Liberal Democrat MP, has suggested the government would lose a legal challenge over its national programme for patients with learning disabilities and said the national Transforming Care programme was at the “very least a partial failure”.
“I regard this as a human rights issue. We’re locking people up when we don’t need to lock them up. We’re subjecting them to force, when we shouldn’t do so, and this is how I think we need to frame it. If the government were challenged in court on this, I think there’s a very good chance, as an ex-lawyer, that they would lose.”
Transforming Care was launched in 2011 following the Winterborne View scandal and aimed to discharge patients with learning disabilities and autism out of institutional inpatient units into the community. However, the most recent figures, from NHS Digital, show there were still more than 2,000 patients within inpatient units, ahead of the national programme’s expiration this month.
Kevin Cleary, deputy chief inspector for hospitals and lead for learning disability and mental health services for the CQC, said: “We have allowed our patients to be placed within places like Whorlton Hall. I think the NHS provides very few services of this type, it has withdrawn from providing these services, and has become comfortable with providing that service, within the independent sector, several hundred miles away and that’s not right… absolutely not right."
“We cannot say we are providing patient centred care or say we are placing the patient at the heart of everything we do and have that response from the system. We are all responsible for that.”
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Source: HSJ, 10 March 2020