14 July 2022
In response to today’s publication of the Building the Right Support (BtRS) Action Plan, Dr Rhidian Hughes, Chief Executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), said:
“We welcome the Government’s long-overdue plan to address the appalling state of long-stay institutional care in England. There is no doubt that harsh institutional environments do not have a place in care and support for people with learning disabilities and autism.
“While it is encouraging that progress has been made, it is still unacceptably slow. Secluded institutional care is fundamentally wrong and exposes some of the most vulnerable citizens in this country to serious risk of harm. There are no excuses for this type of provision, and VODG welcomes the focus the regulator, the Care Quality Commission, has also given to this.
“Today’s publication of the Action Plan should be the catalyst for statutory partners and agencies to work together, as a matter of urgency, with voluntary sector partners to reduce the number of admissions and readmissions to these long stay units.
“The current situation has, by some measure, been sustained by the profits accrued by large corporations and private investment vehicles – companies that lack any real incentive to support this Action Plan. If substantial progress is to be made, re-providing care away from long-stay institutions should not be about making private investors richer but should instead have at its core the aim to remodel and transform publicly funded provision.
“VODG is committed to the closure of all institutional settings for people with learning disabilities and autism and the development of comprehensive, effective, and safe provision in the community. To this end, VODG is calling on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to:
- Direct CQC to rate all ATUs as ‘Requiring Improvement’ if any person has been living there for more than 12 months. The rating should be downgraded to ‘Inadequate’ if anyone has been living there for more than 24 months and all new admissions halted until the rating has improved.
- Ask the Treasury to establish a community development fund of £400m over four years to pump prime the development of community facilities. VODG believes that funding needs to be invested immediately in developing community provision that can support people with the most complex needs. Without this approach, the excuses for refusing discharge will continue.
- Require the National Audit Office to publish an annual report to be presented to parliament on the progress of this action plan.
“Today’s Action Plan signals a positive step forward. As the Plan rightly recognises, we have, however, been here before with previous reports and recommendations seemingly falling by the wayside. As we look towards the future and reimagine care for people with learning disabilities and autism, VODG stands ready to actively support the BtRS Delivery Board and implementing systems to ensure the meaningful change and reform needed does take place to eradicate inappropriate long-stay institutional care in England.”