NHS questioned on care of people with learning disabilities and/or autism

09 January 2019

The Joint Committee on Human Rights takes evidence from the NHS and the Care Quality Commission for their inquiry into the conditions in learning disability inpatient units.

Purpose of the session

The purpose of the session is:

  • To question NHS England about the in-patient units that it commissions for the care of people with learning disabilities and/or autism
  • To question CQC about its inspections of these units.

Topics likely to be covered include:

  • What are the barriers to reducing the numbers of unsuitable placements?
  • Why are levels of restraint and solitary confinement so high?
  • Is the inspection regime able to detect and address poor practice effectively?


In the wake of the Winterbourne View scandal in 2011 it became clear that many people with a learning disability and/ or autism are detained in mental health hospitals inappropriately.

The Department of Health’s national policy response, Transforming Care committed to significantly reduce the numbers. However, despite some progress they remain stubbornly high:

  • At the end of October 2018 2,350 people were in learning disability and autism inpatient settings down from 2,865 in March 2015 58% of whom had been there for a period of over 2 years.
  • The number of under 18s in these settings have more than doubled to 250 since March 2015 when there were only 110.
  • Concerns have been raised in evidence about high and rising levels of restraint and solitary confinement in these institutions.  In 2016, people were recorded as being subjected to restraint on 15,065 occasions. In 2017 this figure had increased by exactly 50%, to 22,620 restraint ‘episodes’. If the projected figures for 2018 are right, the number of times people are restrained is set to increase even further, to 25,812 episodes.


Wednesday 9 January 2019, Committee room 1, Palace of Westminster

At 3.15pm the Joint Committee on Human Rights will take evidence from:

  • Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (and lead for mental health), Care Quality Commission
  • Ray James, National Learning Disability Director, NHS England
  • Dr Jean O’Hara, National Clinical Director, Learning Disabilities, NHS England

Further information

Image: PA

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