Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech included welcome proposed changes to the Mental Health Act which would prevent people being detained solely on the basis of being autistic or having a learning disability. Many organisations including Dimensions have been pressing government for this for years.
This month marks the 11th anniversary of the Winterbourne View scandal, after which the UK vowed to transform care and to support more people in their homes, not hospitals. But over a decade later, there are still more than 2,000 people with learning disabilities and/or autism living long term in hospitals across the UK. More than half of those have been in hospital for more than two years.
The plans outlined in the Queen’s Speech to change the Mental Health Act are an important first step to realising the original vision of the Transforming Care agenda. This step must now be matched with a renewed commitment to increase funding to the sector, eliminate perverse private sector profit motives, ensure the delivery of high quality Care and Treatment Reviews and increase the provision of suitable housing.