The report states that the programme is not yet on track to achieve value for money, with an urgent need to resolve a number of complex challenges if they are to achieve the ambition of a substantial shift away from reliance on inpatient care

This comes days after Channel 4‘s Dispatches exposed the horrific experiences of people with a learning disability in inpatient units.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive at Mencap, and Viv Cooper, chief executive at the Challenging Behaviour Foundation said:

“Those who saw the horrors outlined in this week’s Channel 4 Dispatches programme would hope NHS England are firmly in control of ending the institutionalised care that subjects people with a learning disability to a risk of abuse and neglect in inpatient units. However, the National Audit Office report shatters any hope of this.

“Far from NHS England’s Closure programme of inpatient units being at the stage of roll out they are still grappling with how to resolve the barriers that have been well known for years.  Plans to develop a workforce to support people who come out of inpatient units have not been developed whilst the mechanisms to move money out of hospitals and into the community are still failing,

“NHS England must stop funding placements in institutional settings, sort out the funding to develop community support and services and strengthen the law to end this scandal of care that allows people to be trapped in inpatient units with no guarantee of when or if they will return home. Families reading this report will fear there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but as the Dispatches investigation has shown it is perfectly possible to support people with complex needs to have a good life in the community.”

The Learning Disability Census 2015 Report published 15 December 2015 has shown the high risk of abuse that people in these units are at risk of.

It confirmed that:

  • 72% had received antipsychotic medication, yet only 28.5% were recorded as having a psychotic disorder
  • 1,670 had experienced one or more incidents (self-harm, accidents, physical assault, restraint or seclusion) in the 3 months prior to census
  • the average length of stay in an institution is 4.9 years
  • 670 people are 100km or more from home, an increase of 17% on last year.


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or

Notes to editors

About Mencap

There are 1.5 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.

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

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’.