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Labour pushes for transfer of vulnerable patients from ATUs

The government is being urged to protect vulnerable people with learning disabilities from abuse and neglect by giving them the care and support they need at home or in the community.

Labour wants the government to make a commitment to stop placing those with such conditions into assessment and treatments units (ATUs) for lengthy periods.

“It’s a scandal that only a third of the people who were in ATUs last April have since been transferred out”

Liz Kendall

It is also calling on ministers to ensure by mid-2016 that vulnerable people with learning disabilities can stay closer to their families and friends.

Three years ago “appalling” standards of care and serious abuse at Winterbourne View − a private hospital for people with learning disabilities − was highlighted by the BBC’s Panorama TV programme. Six care workers were later jailed for various offences.

The following year care minister Norman Lamb said those who were inappropriately in ATUs would be moved to community-based care by June this year, with people getting support in the local community or their own homes.

But new NHS figures show that nine out of 10 current ATU inpatients still don’t have a date for their discharge. The figures show that more than 2,600 people with learning disabilities − including almost 150 children − are still being kept in the units.

Shadow care and older people minister Liz Kendall said: “Ministers promised to move people with learning disabilities out of assessment and treatment units and into the community.

Liz Kendall

Liz Kendall

“It’s a scandal that only a third of the people who were in ATUs last April have since been transferred out and that even today, more people are being sent into them than are being discharged,” she said.

“Over 2,615 people − including 148 children − are still being kept away from their families and friends,” said Ms Kendall.

“Labour is calling on the government to commit to giving people with learning disabilities the support they need in the community or at home by July 2016.

She added: “We need clear, personal and public commitments from ministers. It’s time that they made good on their promises.”


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