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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Ofsted Launches Consultation into Children with Special Educational Needs

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) has announced that it is to launch a consultation into provisions for children and young people who were either disabled or who have special educational needs.

15.4 per cent of pupils in schools in England have identified special educational needs (equating to over 1.3 million pupils).

Encouragingly, this has been decreasing since 2010, and has fallen by 2.5 percentage points since last year. And now Ofsted is attempting to ensure that the issue is addressed further still.

As this process unfolds, the government-appointed organisation is seeking contributions from healthcare professionals.

Ofsted is launching a consultation on the joint inspection of local areas’ effectiveness in dealing with this key issue.

Healthcare professionals that wish to share their particular viewpoint on the overarching inspection program – which is carried out in collaboration with the Care Quality Commission – have until 4th January, 2016 to submit any information.

The new program launched by Ofsted with the operation of the Care Quality Commission is intended to respond to new legal duties relating to local areas.

This will ensure that people can work together in order to meet the needs of a group that is often considered to be vulnerable.

And the program is due to initiate in May next year.

As a central pillar of the process, Ofsted is collecting, collating and considering the views of children and young people who either have special educational needs or who are disabled.

And with the views of healthcare professionals also being an insult, it is expected that the program will be both representative and relevant when it is finally launched.

Education is, of course, of critical importance to young people, and this can be doubly so for those with special educational needs.

Young people and the children of this description often face huge challenges in education, and one of the biggest barriers can be understanding precisely what is meant by this term.

Indeed, the definition of special educational needs is extremely wide; from dyslexia to profound learning and physical disabilities.

Millions such children exist across England, and it is hoped that the program will have a massively beneficial effect on many young people.

The intention is to significantly improve the services that such children rely on by tapping into information provided by people in the best position to understand and assess these services

At present, the inspection cycle is intended to span a 5-year period, but the reporting of findings will take place on an annual basis.

The work being carried out as a part of this collaboration is in addition to another specialist Care Quality Commission inspection program.

Already the Care Quality Commission examines ‘looked after children and safeguarding’, under the umbrella of the CLAS inspection.

For further information about how to take part in the consultation, please visit

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Royal Society of Medicine Conference to Address School Sports Injuries

The Royal Society of Medicine has confirmed a conference programme aimed at reducing injuries in sport played at schools across the UK.

Tackling school sports injury will take place on Monday 14th September at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.

The conference has attracted a panel of prestigious speakers, who will gather at the headquarters of the Royal Society of Medicine to discuss their areas of expertise.

Focus will particularly be placed on childhood injury resulting from sport participation, while attendees will also consider the implications of sport governing policy on the general health and well-being of children in the UK.

This has been a particular focus in Britain over the last few years, as the hosting of the London Olympics in London in 2012 was intended to herald a new era of sports participation.

But information released in July as part of Sport England’s annual active people survey suggests that the legacy of the Olympics has been mixed in terms of getting people involved in sport.

Tackling school sports injury will be chaired by Professor John Ashton, President of the RSM’s Epidemiology & Public Health Section, and Alysson Pollock, Professor of Public Health Research and Policy, Queen Mary University of London.

Pollock has a particularly strong grounding in this subject, having authored the tome “Tackling rugby: what every parent should know about injuries.”

Ahead of the meeting, Professor Ashton noted that sports injuries are an aspect of schooling that is perhaps often taken for granted and discounted.

“School sports are an essential part of every child’s experience. They contribute to health and wellbeing and character formation. In recent years there has been an increasing awareness of the inherent risks in some sports especially those with physical contact. It is important that we find ways for children to continue to participate in what is often an exciting part of their lives without compromising their future,” Ashton reflected.

Several high-profile speakers have been lined up for the conference, as the Royal Society of medicine endeavours to deliver and engaging and enlightening event.

Mr John Ridge, Director of Health and Safety at Ampleforth College will be among the speakers. Ampleforth has a particularly strong sporting reputation, having educated three recent rugby union internationals, including England captain Lawrence Dallaglio.

The school also frequently hosts the annual Bunbury English Schools’ Cricket Festival, which has featured a host of top international cricketers over the years.

Ampleforth has nurtured a culture that challenges the notion that sports accidents are inevitable and should therefore not be afforded undue scrutiny or review, and Ridge will speak on this subject.

Professor Jack Anderson, Professor of Law at Queen’s University, Belfast, will discuss the legal implications of the concussion ‘crisis’ for sport while Mr Errol Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, will discuss the potential for improvement in injury prevention arising from school sports.

Finally, Dr Trish Gorley, University of Stirling, will discuss the perception of sport participation among children, and Professor Eric Anderson, University of Winchester, will give a lecture titled Organised, competitive sport: A cycle of abuse. 

 The conference is one of 400 academic and public meetings that are organised by the society annually.

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