NHS England announced today that plans to close England’s last stand-alone NHS learning disability hospital, Calderstones, will go ahead after publishing the results of a consultation on its closure.

This was the flagship announcement over NHS England’s closure programme, ‘Building the Right Support’ which aims to close 35-50% of inpatient beds across the country by 2019, and develop local, community based support for people with a learning disability.

Several commitments have been made to close inpatient units for people with a learning disability since the Winterbourne View scandal in 2011.

Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive at Mencap, and Viv Cooper, Chief Executive at the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, said:

“The closure of Calderstones is an important step towards NHS England’s commitment in changing the way we care for people with a learning disability.

“But this positive news will be undermined, however, if the arrangements that are put in place are based on the wrong model of care and not in line with the Government and NHS England’s own guidelines. This must include an appropriately skilled workforce and housing to meet people's needs to ensure people get the right support in the right place at the right time.

“Numerous targets and plans have been set out over the last 5 years promising change for people stuck in inpatient settings, often hundreds of miles from home and at increased risk of abuse and neglect. After the closure of Calderstones NHS England must now step up to deliver its commitment to close 35-50% of inpatient beds by 2019, by ensuring good local support is developed to in place of the out-dated, institutional care that should have been closed down decades ago.”

-ENDS-

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk or for out of hours 07770 656 659.

Notes to editors

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

www.mencap.org.uk  

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.

Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.