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Dimensions responds to the NHS Long Term Plan

Dimensions welcomes the focus given to people with learning disabilities and autism in the NHS Long Term, announced today. People with learning disabilities and autism face some of the starkest health inequalities in society today, dying years before the general population because services do not meet their needs. This must stop.

Through the #MyGPandMe campaign, Dimensions has called for mandatory training in primary care. We welcome the government’s ongoing commitment to develop training and information for all NHS staff and to other measures set out that will improve the standard of care given to people with learning disabilities and autism.

Reducing health inequality and the mortality gap will require high quality healthcare throughout people’s lives. Whilst the plan sets out commitments to children and young people, improved standards and training should be to the benefit of people of all ages.

Whilst the plan is encouraging in relation to improving standards of care for people with learning disabilities and autism, it lacks ambition when it comes to moving people out of inpatient care and marks a shift away from the policy of homes not hospitals set out in Transforming Care.

Alicia went on to say:

“A commitment to reduce the number of people in hospital to half of 2015 levels over the next 5 years is simply not good enough. Recent stories of the poor conditions and right abuses experienced by people in inpatient care should give the government a sense of urgency when it comes to moving people into their own homes and out of hospitals, a sense of urgency that is very much lacking in this plan.

People with learning disabilities and autism deserve better and with the right support, very few people need inpatient care. Dimensions would like to see stronger commitments to move people out of hospital and to enable good providers to deliver support in the community. This includes statutory weight behind Care and Treatment Reviews involving people and their families; improved commissioning standards; and ring fenced funding to build community support services from infancy through adulthood. Unfortunately, sufficient funding may not be forthcoming until pressures on adult social care budgets have been resolved.

the issue of social care funding is integral to moving people out of hospital and it is disappointing that the long-awaited social care green paper is still, as yet, unpublished. In order to reduce the use of inpatient care, people with learning disabilities and autism, and their families need well-resourced services. Many good providers are ready and waiting to provide this, but they need upfront funding. This NHS plan may sink or swim based on the government’s ability to solve the social care funding crisis.”