Labour call for urgent action after 40% fall in number of learning disability nurses
Learning disability nurse numbers have fallen by 40% since the Government came to power, Labour has claimed.
Shadow mental health minister Paula Sherriff said health charities had warned urgent action was needed to “avoid a vicious cycle of growing shortages and declining quality”.
Speaking during Commons health and social care questions, the MP for Dewsbury added mental health nurse numbers have fallen for the second month running.
Responding, Health Minister Stephen Hammond (pictured) said it was an issue the Government took “seriously”.
Ms Sherriff said: “Mental health nurse numbers have fallen for the second month running.
“Learning disability nurse numbers have fallen by 40% since this Government came to power.
“Nearly 13,000 mental health staff left between May and October last year and there is now a vacancy rate of almost 10%.
“The King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation have said that urgent action is now required to avoid a vicious cycle of growing shortages and declining quality.
“Isn’t it time that the minister started taking their advice rather than giving it?”
Mr Hammond replied: “We of course take it seriously, the whole department takes it seriously.
“The Minister for Social Care met with Baroness Harding to discuss exactly how we can make sure there is the workforce for nurses and carers to help people with learning disabilities, and the money that has been promised to make sure that is possible comes in the new financial year, which of course starts next week.”
Shadow minister for mental health and social care Barbara Keeley raised the issue of the numbers of people with autism or learning disabilities in hospital in patient settings.
She urged the Government to commit to proper social care funding for the programme and to renew the pledge to end the misery of these placements by 2022.
Ms Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles South said: “There are still 2,295 patients who are autistic or who have learning disabilities in hospital in patient settings despite a Government pledge in 2012 that no-one would be in inappropriate settings by 2014.
“In 2015, the Government said they would close up to 50% of these in patient places, they failed to meet that pledge too because of a lack of social care funding.
“So will the secretary of state now commit to proper social care funding for this programme and to renew the pledge to end the misery of these placements by 2022?”
Care Minister Caroline Dinenage replied: “The NHS long-term plan has made it very clear that learning disability and autism are one of the key clinical pillars in their absolute priorities.
“We’re very clear that this transforming care work is incredibly important, where people do need access to inpatient services for assessment and treatment of needs it has to be for a short a time as possible, it has to be as close to home as possible and it has to be with a very clear discharge plan in place.”
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Anthony Devlin / PA Wire.