Closure of hospital beds for people with learning disabilities?

20 August 2018

In response to the Cambridge and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group’s consultation on changes to provision of inpatient beds for people with learning disabilities

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The proposed closure of hospital beds for people with learning disabilities and autism appears to be a gamble, relying on the success of future investment. No realistic indication is given of required future funding or staff numbers. While increasing services in the community would be beneficial, we need to be reassured that these services would improve people’s lives rather than being a cost-cutting exercise. There needs to be a guarantee that there will be an appropriate number of acute beds without people having to go out of area. For this proposal to work, there needs to be a comprehensive out-of-hours service to support people in crisis. A major concern is that this change could lead to poorer services for people in both the hospital system and the community.

This proposal could lead to a reduction in acute facilities similar to those we have seen in mental health, leaving people vulnerable, without support and treatment when they need it and without appropriate levels of community services as well. Facilities for people with learning disabilities and autism are already under resourced. With no concrete alternatives in place to guarantee the safety of people undergoing acute difficulties, they may find themselves in a mainstream mental health wards; this could lead to a failure of duty of care.

We urge the Cambridge and Peterborough CCG to give those considering the consultation a realistic idea of how the services will be developed, to continue to consult directly with people who will be affected and call on the government to prioritise more funding to save the NHS.

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