Monday 7 December 2015

Winterbourne view - time for change

Its nearly a year on from the publication of Winterbourne View – Time for Change: the report I wrote on what actions had (or rather had not) been taken following the discovery of the abuse of people with learning disabilities in that home.

I've been commissioned by Simon Stevens, the CEO of NHS England to report on progress a year on, so today I convened a meeting of the "Transforming Care" steering group.

 Now we’ve finally got a closure programme of institutions from NHS England, it was good to talk about what comes next. ‘What comes next’ can’t just be dictated by us. So I used this meeting to share some of the responses to the consultation I carried out just recently. I spoke to people from all over the country, and from all walks of life. Their responses were eye-opening.
“[Our son] was in a setting which was based around Person Centred Support, but then after a scandal, they shifted to a ‘meds and beds’ approach”

It was good to hear that people supported the idea of the closure programme. But there was, understandably, concern about how we make this happen. People recognise that the NHS wants to change, but too often there is nothing more than this willingness.

“The question has never been support for the idea, but how you make change happen”
What this consultation underlined for me was the importance of giving people control over their lives. The closure programme is the start of this. But we need to go further. If people want control over their lives, the new system should give it to them. Wherever possible, those with autism or learning disabilities should be allowed to live independently, but with support .

“It’s about having the choice of where you want to go and what you want to do”
It was also good to see NHS England taking this meeting seriously. Last time we met, they seemed underprepared. Now, I’m confident that they’re making progress. It’s always good to hear that people are doing the right thing. I believe that this closure programme, and the scaling up of community facilities that goes with it, can really work.

My next intervention on this is due in February. I’ll be drawing on everything that was said to me during my consultation. I’ll also be drawing on what I was told by the NHS England providers at our meeting. By bringing these two interests together, we can make sure that the future of care works for everyone.

And I'm still open for views. So feel free to contact Kate in my office on

As a country we have so failed people with learning disabilities and their families. We have to strengthen their rights and ensure a care and support system that delivers for them. And an end to institutional care.

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