Report Suggests Learning Disability Commissioner is a Must

A new report has suggested that it should be considered essential to appoint a commission related to the rights of people with learning disabilities in England.

The suggestion is also made in the report that it could be necessary for some care homes to close.

Sir Stephen Bubb, who has been reviewing the sector since the abuse scandal at Winterbourne View home, stated he had been shocked by stories of the treatment of people with learning disabilities that he considered to be “intolerable”.

It has been reported that the government is now assessing the recommendations from the report, as it considers how to act.

The BBC’s Panorama programme had previously uncovered serious patient abuse and neglect at the Winterbourne View private hospital, near Bristol, back in 2011.

Sir Stephen – who is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations – had been appointed by NHS England to examine the best way to address “serious shortcomings” in the support for those with learning disabilities.

Technical recommendations were then reported in the published report – Winterbourne View – Time for Change – in November 2014.

Yet Bubb now believe that there has been an “absence of any tangible progress”.

Commenting on the current situation in the UK, Bubb indicated that learning disabilities are not being dealt with effectively.

“I have been really shocked by what I have heard about seclusion, around over-medication, around the use of physical restraint. It’s an intolerable way to treat people with learning disabilities. The right place for people is with their families and in the community, supported properly.”

In addition, Bubb also indicated that closing institutions may be a significant part of an overall strategy, but it is also essential to address how society treats people in both education and health systems.

“That’s why my major recommendation today is for the establishment of a commissioner for learning disabilities – someone who will drive and act as an advocate for change and for making more progress.”

And one of the main recommendations made by the report is the instigation of a commissioner position, intended to both protect and promote the rights of learning-disabled people in the UK.

Some 3,500 vulnerable disabled people are still in institutions according to Bubb’s latest report, which is over 30% more than was considered to be the case.

Bubb cited the precedent of previous enquiries into different health areas, suggesting that a commissioner could make a massive contribution to learning disabilities.

“Just as a children’s commissioner was established following the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, there is a firm argument for establishing this post. It would have a statutory duty to promote and protect the rights of all people with learning disabilities and their families.”


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