19th December 2012

Minister maintains his commitment to the action in the Winterbourne View Review Concordat, following DH Final report on abuse at Winterbourne View: ARC’s response

Last week, the Department of Health published its Final Report on the abuse that was exposed at Winterbourne View in a Panorama programme in May 2011. The report’s action plan recommends rapidly reducing the number of assessment and treatment centres, like Winterbourne View, and replacing them with community-based supported options by June 2014.

Alongside the final report the DH have also published a Concordat that presents a plan of action in the form of a range of commitments to affect real change for people with learning disabilities who have challenging support needs. The Association for Real Change, alongside many other key organisations and significant sector bodies, has been happy to sign up to the commitments in the Concordat.

“This is a moment that demands a change in approach and culture,” said Norman Lamb when the Report was presented, and yesterday (18th December 2012), at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Learning Disabilities (APPG), he stated several times that he was “passionate” about improving the whole approach to support for this group of people.

He also said it is his job to “keep a very close focus on this and check that everybody meets what they have agreed to”, and he will do this as the Chair of the new Programme Board, set up to drive forward cross-Government work to improve outcomes for people with learning disabilities within the new health, social care and welfare structures. The Association for Real Change has often had concerns that actions in response to past crises and failures have not always been monitored and followed up, so we commend the Minister’s resolve to require annual progress reports and expose those who fail to do what is expected of them.

When the Report was released last week Norman Lamb said that we should “no more tolerate people being placed in inappropriate care settings than we would receiving the wrong cancer treatment”, and yesterday he followed this up by saying it is essential that there is, “recognition that people with learning disabilities have exactly the same rights as everyone else”.

In response to questions in parliament about how these changes can be made with the pressure on reduced spending, he made clear that “individuals should have the care that they need and we should never compromise on this”, but went on to say that he had seen how care and support in community based settings cost less than the fees being paid for people placed at Winterbourne View. Yesterday, at the APPG meeting, he assured those present, including the Association for Real Change, that money would be available (£2-5m) to support the transition to more appropriate community-based support settings for those individuals currently living in specialist hospitals as in-patients.

Key commitments in the Concordat are to:

  • Review current hospital placements, and support everyone inappropriately placed there to move to community-based support as quickly as possible, and no later than 1 June 2014
  • Agree a personal care plan for each individual, based on their families’ needs and agreed outcomes
  • Put in place a locally agreed joint plan for high quality care and support services for people of all ages with challenging behaviour, in accordance with the model of good care (Appendix A of Transforming care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital)
  • Improve the quality and safety of care
  • Strengthen the accountability and corporate responsibility for the quality of care.

In addition to the general commitments to changes, there are more specific commitments that a range of different bodies and groups has each pledged to support. The Association for Real Change has committed to working to reduce the number of specialist hospitals, in line with proposals in the Concordat, and will work with members to develop models that reflect the need for high quality community-based approaches. We will support providers to develop plans for, amongst other things:

  • safe recruitment practices,
  • providing appropriate training for staff on how to support people with challenging behaviour,
  • providing good management and the right supervision,
  • identifying a senior manager or, where appropriate, a Director, to ensure that the organisation pays proper regard to quality, safety and clinical governance for that organisation.

The other bodies who have signed up to commitments in the Concordat include CQC, Skills for Care and Skills for Health, the National Quality Board, The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), Healthwatch, Health Education England, NHS Commissioning Board, ADASS, Local Government Association (LGA) and the Department of Health.

In response to the publication of this final report Jacqueline Bell, CEO of Association for Real Change said,

“I am very pleased to hear how Norman Lamb intends to demonstrate that the Government has fully understood what is needed to ensure real change for people who have a learning disability. We are equally committed to ensure those changes happen as it will always take real commitment from providers to ensure the best possible outcomes for all people who have a learning disability. It was good to hear Norman Lamb express as “shocking” the failure of public bodies to respond to the huge number of alerts about Winterbourne View.

 “We don’t believe in locked doors, and hospitals are not homes. We deplore the criminal abuse that was perpetrated by staff at Winterbourne View and this case has highlighted a care and support system that is failing some of the most vulnerable people in society. At yesterday’s APPG meeting, the Minister demonstrated that he has heard families’ and campaigners’ concerns by committing to a programme of change.

“I am also pleased to see that the 60 or so actions are each allocated to lead bodies and these will be scrutinised and monitored through the new Programme Board. It is vital that this Board insists that those who plan and commission services take a long term view to planning and securing the right kind of support for people who need the best quality services, before families face a crisis situation. We will persist in our work to promote the importance of good leadership and we are pleased to hear that those who fail to prevent poor care will, in future, be held accountable.”