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05.08.16

Local plans developed to improve services for patients with learning difficulties

Locally-based plans to improve services for patients with learning difficulties and autism have been published today.

The transforming care partnerships (TCPs) bring together service users, their families, providers of services, CCGs, local authorities and NHS England specialised commissioning hubs.

They are designed to help implement the reforms suggested in ‘Building the right support: A national implementation plan to develop community services and close inpatient facilities’, a 2015 report from NHS England, the Local Government Association (LGA), and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).

The report recommended giving patients with learning disabilities and autism and their families a greater say in their care in order to help reduce the number of patients going to hospital by 30-50% within three years.

Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England and chair of the Transforming Care Delivery Board, said: “Building the right support was rightly praised for its ambitious and comprehensive plan to improve the lives of people with a learning disability and/or autism.

“This will by no means be easy, but it’s extremely encouraging to see how local NHS organisations and councils have taken up the mantle, built on existing good practice and engaged with families and organisations in their areas to develop their own innovative plans to suit their areas.”

For example, north west London’s TCP includes a commitment to establishing 24/7 crisis care, as well as services to help patients live in community settings and provide psychological support to help people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system avoid re-offending.

Birmingham’s TCP will help people with learning disabilities develop crisis plans and consider the possibility of bringing together local charities in an advocacy, training and information hub. And Greater Manchester will provide more community housing for people with learning disabilities.

Around 24,000 people with learning disabilities and/or autism are classed at being at risk of admission into hospital, and around 2,530 were in inpatient settings as of 30 June, around a third of whom were admitted over five years ago.

NHS England also announced today that it has awarded almost £6.5m to 23 TCPs to help them get new services up and running, out of a planned £30m over the next three years. This includes funding to help people stay in their own homes in north central London, using a community crisis intervention team and a recovery house as an alternative to hospital.

The funding will also develop a new community service for people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system in Kent and Medway and a new autism service in Devon.

NHS England has also provided £2m to contribute to the acquisition of the former Calderstones Partnership NHS FT by Mersey Care FT.

In total, NHS England will provide £100m to support the TCPs.

Ray James, ADASS immediate past-president and vice-chair of the Transforming Care Delivery Board, said: “ADASS recognises the encouraging progress made by many local partnerships, who are working together to transform the choices available for local people.

“The transformation funds announced today will help ensure that more people with a learning disability and/or autism are supported to lead fuller, more independent lives in their local community.

“We know there is much more that needs to done, but today marks another important step in our work with and for local people, their families and carers.”

NHS England also announced recently that it is appointing patients with learning difficulties to ‘quality check’ how accessible services are.

To view summaries of all the TCPs, click here.

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