Mencap and The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) respond to today’s (29 January 2015)  publication of ‘Learning Disability Census 2014’ and ‘Transforming Care for People with Learning Disabilities -- Next Step’. 

The Census was commissioned in the wake of physical and psychological abuse suffered by people with a learning disability at Winterbourne View Hospital exposed by a Panorama investigation broadcast in 2011. The Learning Disability Census 2014 reveals 

  • 3,230patients receiving inpatient care. Almost no change since last year (3,250)
  • Average length of stay in an institution is 5.4 years
    1 year or more - 1,915 patients
    10 years or more - 175 patients
  • 1,055 do not need inpatient care according to care plan
  • 2,345 patients (73%) had received antipsychotic medication either regularly or as needed in the 28 days prior to the census collection. Use of antipsychotic medication has increased between 2013 and 2014 .
  • 1,780 patients (55%) had one or more incidents (self-harm, accidents, physical assault, restraint or seclusion) in the three months prior to census  day . 

After the failure of the Government to honour their June 2014 commitment to ensure that people with a learning disability were supported to return to their communities from units like Winterbourne View and get the right support and services they needed in their local areas, NHS England commissioned Sir Stephen Bubb to produce a report on how to accelerate the transformation that people with learning disabilities and their families are looking for.

Following Sir Stephen Bubb’s report, NHS England, the Department of Health, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care, the Care Quality Commission and Health Education England today responded to the recommendations.

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

“Today’s publication by NHS England and its partners is the first recognition that collectively they understand the scale of the problem but does not do enough to take us nearer to delivering the key recommendations from the Bubb report.  There needs to be a clear, timetabled nationwide closure programme and investment in and development of local services, so thousands of people can be brought out of inappropriate settings and returned to their local community with good support. It will disappoint thousands of people with a learning disability and their families, who have been fighting for their right to be supported in the community, and for changes to the way support is provided for people with a learning disability and behaviour described as challenging.

“After the scandal of abuse and neglect at Winterbourne View, the government promised change. Following the failure to meet the June 2014 deadline to move people out of institutions, NHS England took a lead in driving forward urgent changes. They commissioned Sir Stephen Bubb’s November 2014 report, which set out clear recommendations. Bubb called for closure of units providing inappropriate care, the development of local housing and support services, and new training initiatives to develop the right skills and expertise to commission and deliver better care and support. Today, these recommendations have not been adequately addressed, leaving thousands of families whose loved ones are stuck in units still wondering when change will happen.

“Alarmingly, we know more people are still going in than coming out of units, while many people have been in them for years.  We need to see a systematic change to commissioning practices across health and social care, and joint working to create local services to both prevent in-patient admissions and enable people to return to their communities.

“The Learning Disability Census shows that things are not getting any better despite over two years worth of work on this area. The commitments made in ’Transforming Care for People with Learning Disabilities -- Next Steps’ need to bring about urgent change on the ground to convince people with a learning disability and their families that this failure is not just going to be repeated.“

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

Notes to editors

About The Challenging Behaviour Foundation

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) is an independent charity providing information, support and workshops around challenging behaviour associated with severe learning disabilities to families and professionals. The CBF leads the ‘Challenging Behaviour National Strategy Group’ which seeks to influence policy and practice nationally and has developed the Challenging Behaviour Charter.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation was founded in 1997 by Vivien Cooper, parent of a son with severe learning disabilities who displays behaviour described as challenging. Today the Challenging Behaviour Foundation is in regular contact with over 5000 families and professionals across the UK. There are an estimated 30,000 individuals in England with severe learning disabilities and behaviour described as challenging.


About Royal Mencap Society

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Independent charity 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.