NHS England’s Transforming Care initiative is about enabling more people with learning disabilities and autism to live in the community, with the right support, and close to home.
But a recent Sky News investigation, based on NHS Digital data, showed that the number of people in assessment and treatment units (ATUs) in England has fallen by just 80, from 2,395 in March 2015 to 2,315 in September 2018.
ATUs are in-patient units intended for the short-term assessment, treatment and stabilisation of people with mental health conditions who display behaviours that challenge.
The figures come despite the government’s commitment to close up to half the beds in these hospitals by March 2019.
People in ATUs with a learning disability or autism are supposed to be discharged into community-based care within 18 months. And yet, of people currently in ATUs, 16 per cent have been there for more than 10 years, with the average stay being five and a half years.
The number of children in ATUs has actually increased, from 110 in March 2015 to 230 in September 2018.
Affinity Trust works in partnership with commissioners, health professionals, individuals and family members, in support of the Transforming Care programme. Ruth, for instance, has seen her life transformed since moving from a secure hospital into Affinity Trust’s Transforming Care service in Leicestershire in 2016.
Leo Sowerby, Affinity Trust Chief Executive, said: “It’s shocking that more than 2,000 people with learning disabilities or autism remain in hospitals or secure units, and that the total has fallen by just 80 in three years. Our own experience shows that, with the right support, people can transition to a better life in the community.”