The Reply from Ray James on behalf of Simon Stevens

National Learning Disability Director NHS England

14th December 2018

Dear Julie and Rightful Lives,

Re. Mail on Sunday Investigation

Thank you for your recent correspondence dated 12 November.

In Building the Right Support, a national plan we produced jointly with the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), we were clear that people with a learning disability or autism should have exactly the same rights as the rest of the population – and our ambition remains.

Whilst I am aware of the cases you have highlighted in your letter, you will understand that in order to protect individuals’ confidentiality, I am unable to comment on specific cases mentioned in the media, however, I can assure you that we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that people only remain in hospital whilst receiving active treatment that can be delivered in that setting alone.

NHS England is strongly committed to improving the health and care of people with a learning disability, autism or both. As you will know, learning disability and autism is a priority in the NHS long term plan. Significant progress has already been made nationally including a 19% reduction of people in inpatient beds, and we will continue our work in reducing local variation to achieve the best possible outcome by the end of March 2019 and beyond.

The long term plan has given us an opportunity to hear from hundreds of service users, families and professionals about potential areas for improvement. It has given us an opportunity to hear what is most important to people to live healthy and happy lives. The plan is expected to be ready for publication shortly, and the principles set out in Building the Right Support remain central to the future of specialist services for people with a learning disability, autism or both. People will continue to be supported to receive personalised care and support in the community, in their own homes, closer to their friends and family.

In addition, I’m sure you will be aware that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has asked the CQC to initiate a thematic review into the practice of prolonged seclusion and long-term segregation for children and adults with a mental illness, learning disability or autism in secondary care and social care settings. NHS England will be supporting that work.

Your website is a reminder of the values we all share in common, and how being able to live our values and achieve our dreams is everyone’s basic right. We need to create a society where that is the reality for everyone.

If you would like to meet with me to discuss these issues in more detail, please do get in touch with Lyn Hughes (lyn.hughes2@nhs.net) who will be able to arrange a suitable date and time.

Yours sincerely,

Ray James