Government urged to take action on abuse
Wednesday 05 September 2012
MP hosts debate on abuse of people with a learning disability in care services, while families share their fears
A Labour MP said it was “nothing short of a national scandal that we’ve allowed people with learning disabilities to be so marginalised and ill-treated,” during a debate in the House of Commons on 3 September.
Tom Clarke MP, who is also co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on learning disability, called the debate to discuss the abuse and neglect of people with a learning disability in care services. This follows the Winterbourne View abuse scandal uncovered by last year's 'BBC Panorama' programme. He urged the government to intervene to tackle the problem.
He said: “The standard of care and protection we provide to people with learning disabilities is a shameful indictment of our society. The current care model, as well as the regulation of it, led to these abuses.”
Clarke also called for a review to ensure the existing funding system did not incentivise the keeping of patients for long periods of time at assessment centres, while recommending a support network to allow adults with a learning disability to be cared for in their own communities.
Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation recently published a joint report also calling for urgent action to address the systemic failings in the care and supoort of people with a learning disability and behaviour that challenges. ‘Out of Sight’ highlights a number of serious incidents reported by families, and calls for the closure of large institutions and the development of appropriate local services.
Speaking at the debate, Paul Burstow, who was then care services minister, said: “The government does agree with him that people with learning disabilities have a right to lead their lives like anyone else, free from fear, free from harassment and certainly free from harm and abuse. I look forward to coming back to the House later this year with the final report setting out the actions this government will take to stamp this out.”
After the debate, the families of the people featured in the ‘Out of Sight’ report had the chance to talk to Tom Clarke and other MPs about their concerns. One mother said: “I was glad of the opportunity to express my fears to Mr Clarke, for a system that failed my son so badly. He took all our concerns most seriously.
“I trust that more people in the future will show such an active compassion and understanding, as he does, for the special sons and daughters represented at the meeting.”
Over 740 people have have emailed their MP, asking them to call on the health minister to make sure the government’s final report on Winterbourne View takes strong action against the abuse of people with a learning disability. If you haven't emailed your MP yet, please do so, and help us get the change that is urgently needed.
Read the ‘Out of Sight’ report
Read the transcript of the debate
Take action and email your MP