Yesterday marked the my report The Challenge Ahead. This is the final installment in my Time for Change campaign, which set out to improve the quality of care and support given to individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism.
First, I would like to thank all involved with this campaign over the last year. With the help of this diverse crowd – which has included everyone from providers to those affected by learning disabilities and/or autism – we have managed to get a real commitment from NHS England to close inappropriate care settings.
But this is not job done. There are still real challenges facing this programme. And it is to these that today’s report speaks.
First, I have called for a Learning Disabilities Commissioner. They would be empowered and obliged to act on behalf of those individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism. This is crucial to ensuring that the promises made last Autumn are kept, and that these people get the support they deserve.
I also call for the Transforming Care programme to be independently evaluated. Without rigorous external examination of the process, there is a risk that we reach 2019 only to find that yet more promises have been broken. We cannot allow this to happen.
This, and the other recommendations I have made, has come from a consultation with individuals affected by learning disabilities and/or autism. By listening to the voices of those most affected, it is possible to ensure that reforms are made with their best interests at heart.
And I was encouraged by what I heard at the launch of this report. Both Alistair Burt MP, the Minister for Social Care, and Luciana Berger MP, the Shadow Minister for Mental Health, supported the need to provide high quality care for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. But this is not just about politicians. We heard from Phill Wills, father of Josh Wills, and two family members of people who were in Winterbourne View. These compelling testimonies reminded us of why this campaign matters – to improve the lives of the people affected.
Finally, I will echo what Baroness Hollins said yesterday – This is just a report. What needs to come next is action.
Alistair Burt MP, Minister for Social Care
Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health
Phill Wills, Father of Josh Wills and CampaignerFor more information on this report, see here.