Oonagh Smyth, Executive Director of Strategy and Influence, said:

“We welcome the Long Term Plan’s focus on addressing the shocking health and care inequalities experienced by people with a learning disability and their families. We are particularly encouraged to see new targets for annual health checks, a focus on workforce training and a commitment to further investigating and learning from deaths of people with a learning disability. We hope these will give people with a learning disability a better chance of living longer and living better.

“But delaying the target for reducing the numbers of people with a learning disability locked away in mental health hospitals to 2023/24 is disgraceful. The previous deadline to make sure that up to 50% of beds were closed and the right community support developed was March of this year. NHS England and its partners have not only failed to deliver on this promise but with this new target show no signs of urgency while people are kept in institutions, often subject to physical restraint, overmedication and being kept in isolation.

“NHS England must urgently reassess this timetable and put forward a credible plan for change.”


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Sally Holden, PR Consultant at Mencap, on 020 7696 5414 or sally.holden@mencap.org.uk

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 people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

Mencap provided direct support to 5,231 people with a learning disability in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2017/2018 and answered nearly 13,000 calls through the Learning Disability Helpline.


For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email helpline@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, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.