In the latest of a series of blogs to mark Learning Disability Week, the Chief Nursing Officer for England, Jane Cumings, discusses NHS England’s ongoing programme of work to transform services:
Learning Disability Week provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved in the past year, and what we want to achieve in 2015-16.
There are very few policy areas which have been the focus of more thought, more debate and more work than how we support people with learning disabilities, and there are very few areas where this has been more overdue.
Over the last year we have commissioned and received an independent report on services for people with learning disabilities, written by a panel chaired by ACEVO Chief Executive Sir Stephen Bubb. That report set out a series of challenges for us and our national partners, which we responded to earlier this year.
The Transforming Care for People with Learning Disabilities – Next Steps report set out an ambitious series of measures that we – along with the Local Government Association (LGA), the Association of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Health Education England (HEE) and the Department of Health (DH) – are committed to take over the coming year.
Work to realise those ambitions is underway at a ferocious pace between my team at NHS England and their national and local colleagues.
One of our first priorities has been to empower people and their families by giving them the means to challenge their admission or continued placement in inpatient care through an admission gateway process and Care and Treatment Reviews, aimed at reducing the number of admissions and speeding up discharges.
To date we have undertaken more than 1,700 Care and Treatment Reviews, where professionals, patients and family members come together to discuss the best form of care for that individual, and hundreds of those patients have been moved to more appropriate settings.
The next phase of our work focuses on getting the right care in the right place. This means working with local authorities and other providers to ensure that high quality community-based alternatives to hospital are available.
We said at the time of the Next Steps report that this work would begin at speed in the North, Midlands and East regions, where commissioners have been the most likely to use inpatient facilities, and Simon Stevens used his speech to the NHS Confederation Conference to announce where that work will take place.
Commissioners in Greater Manchester and Lancashire, Cumbria and the North East, Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire and Hertfordshire will receive extra technical support from NHS England to draw up transformation plans over the summer, and will be able to access a £10million transformation fund to kick-start implementation from Autumn 2015.
The transformation we want to see in those areas will mean strengthening services in the community, closing inpatient beds and improving lives for patients. The work they do will accelerate change in those areas, but also help shape the approach NHS England takes to transforming learning disability services elsewhere.
There’s much more to come over the coming months too: engaging with stakeholders on a new service model, reforms to contracts to strengthen accountability, tightening regulation and inspections to improve quality, and increasing workforce capability by working with patient and carer groups to address gaps in skills and best practice.
At their heart, our reforms are about putting the voice of people with learning disabilities – and the voices of their families, carers and loved ones – at the very centre of how their care is planned and delivered.
By the time Learning Disability Week comes around next year, I’m determined to be able to say that has been achieved.
- For updates on Learning Disability Awareness Week follow #LDWeek15