More than 350 people with a learning disability or autism have been detained in hospitals for more than 10 years, with no serious prospect of being discharged, new research has revealed.
The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) found that 2,250 people with special needs are currently detained in long-stay NHS accommodation, half of which will still be confined by 2030.
The group has called on the next government to address this “national scandal” by delivering the legislation and funding required to move people out of hospital and provide them with safe and effective provision of care in the community.
VODG chief executive Rhidian Hughes, said: “A rate that only halves the population of people living in long-stay units after twenty years is simply not good enough. Secluded institutionalised care is fundamentally wrong and exposes some of the most vulnerable citizens to serious risk of harm and risks damaging their wellbeing.
“While our research did show examples of transforming care partnerships working well, the majority of social care providers who can support people out of long-stay institutions are still experiencing significant challenges. We need to see significant improvement in the commissioning of services and a step away from NHS and privately run long-stay provision.”
A new report commissioned by the VODG shows that 463 people have been detained in NHS accommodation for more than five years and 355 for more than 10 years.
The VODG has called for the Secretary of Health and Social Care to direct the Care Quality Commission to rate all assessment and treatment units as ‘Requires Improvement’ if any person has been living there for more than 12 months.
This rating should be downgraded to ‘Inadequate’ if anyone has been living there for more than 24 months, the group said.
It has also called for the HM Treasury to invest £400 million over four years in the development of services to support care in the community.
“It is only through the levers of government and realistic investment that substantial progress can be made. Previous governments acted on the scandal of long-stay hospitals with legislation and funding. If the next government does not do the same, then the message is crystal clear, ‘these people do not matter to us and we do not care’,” said Hughes.