1 in 5 with learning disabilities being treated 100km or more away from home

A new report in response to events at Winterbourne View Hospital is published today, providing information on hospital inpatients with learning disabilities in England.

Of the 3,250 hospital inpatients included in the 2013 Learning Disability Census, around one in five (18.2 per cent or 570 individuals) were staying in hospital wards 100km or more from their home.

About the same proportion (19.6 per cent or 612) stayed in wards within 10km of their residential postcode and 7.7 per cent (240 people) were resident in hospital, with the same postcode recorded for both residence and hospital.

The census was initiated by the Department of Health and carried out by the HSCIC to provide figures to address some of the concerns laid out in the Government report ‘Transforming care: a national response to Winterbourne View Hospital’. One of the concerns raised in Transforming care was the distance inpatients were from home.

Responses were received from 104 NHS and independent providers in England and provide a snapshot at 30 September 2013. Initial findings on the September 2013 census are released today, with further analysis to be carried out and published in 2014.

The census will be re-run in September 2014 in order to identify change and particularly, where appropriate, reductions in inpatient care in favour of more suitable community care and support options.

The census for 2013 further shows:

•    Almost half (49.5 per cent or 1,581) of inpatients for whom a ward postcode was known were treated in hospitals located in just 8 per cent (12) of local authorities.
•    Among inpatients who normally resided in the South West more than half (52.6 per cent or 80) were in wards 100km or more from home, compared to 8.8 per cent (or 29 inpatients) who normally resided in the North East.
•    The majority of the inpatients in the census (2,994 or 92.1 per cent) were aged between 18 and 64, with under-18s making up 5.7 per cent (185) and patients aged 65 and over 2.2 per cent (71).
•    Nearly two in ten (18.5 per cent or 601) had been inpatients for three months or fewer, compared to six in ten (60.0 per cent or 1,949) who been inpatients a year or more. Among the 1,949 who had been in hospital for a year or more, 572 had been inpatients for five or more years.
•    The proportion who had been inpatients for five years or more was higher among those aged 65 and over (38.0 per cent or 27 out of 71), compared to those aged between 18 and 64 (17.7 per cent or 531 out of 2,994). For inpatients aged 18 and under 7.6 per cent (14 inpatients out of 185) had been inpatients for five or more years.

Chair of the HSCIC, Kingsley Manning said: “This census is an important contribution to understanding how episodes such as those seen at Winterbourne View Hospital can be avoided in the future.

“This report provides a benchmark on the numbers of inpatients with learning disabilities, highlighting evidence that many have been a long way from home for some time. Contact with family, friends, advocates and commissioners is an important part of ensuring people with learning disabilities get high quality care, responsive to their needs.”

Read the full report here: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/pubs/ldcensusrep1213