Government to accelerate hospital discharge of people with autism and learning disabilities

People with autism and learning disabilities will be better supported to leave hospital and re-join the community, it has been announced.

Known as the Community Discharge Fund, local councils will be awarded £62 million in three annual sums to help fund the costs of discharge, such as establishing community teams, funding accommodation, and staff training.

It comes after an independent review revealed that people with disabilities were often left in long-term segregation for far longer than they needed to be.

Last year, a similar investigation, published by Mencap, also found that the number of patients living in institutions exceeded the Government target by 600, while the number of incidents involving ‘restrictive interventions’ – such as physical restraint – rose to 2,505 a month on average, with 820 of those directed towards children.

Welcoming the Government response, Baroness Hollins, who led the review, said the new measures will “prevent the use of seclusion and restraint in future”.

“Supporting people to live well in their own homes would be the best outcome. In some circumstances people’s mental health may require a short admission for specialist assessment and development of an evidence-based treatment plan, but the majority can and should be able to receive expert mental health treatment and support in the community.”

Minister for Care Helen Whately added: “People with a learning disability and autistic people should have the best possible care, and I am determined to put an end to the health inequalities they too often face.”

According to the latest statistics, autism affects around one in every 100 people, meaning there are around 700,000 individuals on the autism spectrum in the UK.

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