Ed Miliband this week highlighted in parliament the failure of David Cameron and the Tory-led government to deliver on a promise made to people with learning disabilities and their families across the country.
In 2011 Panorama’s exposé of Winterbourne View shocked the nation. It led to the Government pledge to move all people with learning disabilities and/or autism inappropriately placed in such institutions into community care by June this year.
Three years on, not only has that move not been achieved, but there are still more people being admitted to such institutions than are being discharged.
This is not a party political point. The government know they have failed here and must now focus their efforts on delivering for those who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Launched this week, the results of the “Winterbourne View – Time For Change” report compiled by Sir Stephen Bubb sets out a roadmap for action.
To urgently close inappropriate in-patient care institutions;
A Charter of Rights for people with learning disabilities and/or autism and their families;
To give people with learning disabilities and their families a ‘right to challenge’ decisions and the right to request a personal budget;
A requirement for local decision-makers to follow a mandatory framework that sets out who is responsible, for which services and how they will be held to account, including improved data collection and publication;
Improved training and education for NHS, local government and provider staff;
To start a social investment fund to build capacity in community-based services, to enable them to provide alternative support and empowering people with learning disabilities by giving them the rights they deserve in determining their care.
As a proud employee at Royal Mencap Society, I work in the campaigns and policy team who have lead the way in supporting people with learning disabilities and their families to speak up and make sure this issue stays on the agenda of those elected to serve us.