Under Lock and Key: Dispatches – Statement from Learning Disability England

Learning Disability England is appalled at the conditions at St Andrews Hospital that were shown in the Dispatches documentary Under Lock and Key, but sadly not surprised.

Our thoughts are with the people and families who have suffered and continue to suffer because of the poor care at St Andrews Hospital.

We don’t believe that institutions like St Andrews should be operating as part of a modern health and social care system for people with learning disabilities and have long been advocating the development of good housing and support in people’s communities.

We ask NHS England to urgently review all patients that they fund at St Andrews with the aim of moving them to alternative services as quickly as possible.

We ask the Care Quality Commission to carry out an urgent review of their hospital inspection system for learning disability hospitals and ensure that those currently receiving services at St Andrews Hospital are safe.

We want to see the government carry out a full review of how St Andrews Hospital has been able to continue to operate despite government and NHS England commitment and investment into community services.  The findings of such a review should be published in full.

We want a review of all Learning Disability provision in places like St Andrews.  This is what happened following the dreadful abuse at Winterbourne View when 150 places were inspected. We want to know what has changed since then and what impact the Transforming Care agenda has had in terms of ensuring that people are supported appropriately in the community.

Gary Bourlet, Co-Founder of LDE says:

“Institutions like St Andrews are inhumane, socially unacceptable and show the lack of respect there is for people with learning disabilities. These places are like prisons. People with learning disabilities are being sent to them not because they’ve committed a crime, but because of their disability. They’re hidden away from the public like in the 19th and 20th centuries. They are robbed of their choice and their power. The effect of being in places like St Andrews is damaging. It doesn’t just affect people with learning disabilities – it affects their families and the people around them. They’ve been punished as well.

The fact that places like St Andrews have not been shut down shows that somebody’s not listening. Nobody’s listening. The fact that these places still exist shows that the medical profession still thinks that they know best.”

Sheila Moorcroft, a member of LDE’s steering group and a parent of a young man with a learning disability says:

As the parent of a young man with autism and moderate learning difficulties, my heart goes out to any family whose child is ‘consigned’, (and that feels like the appropriate word), to such an institution. Many people with autism and learning difficulties successfully lead active lives in the community.  Yes, they need a lot of care and support; yes, it costs money. But as with so many of the debates about the NHS, money and inappropriate use of beds, I would lay odds on good care in the community being far cheaper, not to mention far better for the person, in the long run. I would simply ask: would those commissioners who send these vulnerable adults to such a place, to be treated like that, be willing to send their own family member?  If the answer is no, then no one else should have to endure it either.  If the answer is yes, I am worried for all of us.”

Peter Kinsey, CEO of CMG says:

“There is a great deal of expertise within organisations that provide community support and the vast majority of people in hospitals can live successfully in their communities with the right support.”

Alicia Wood, CEO of LDE says:

We have had recent concerns about the services at St Andrews Hospital for people with learning disabilities and have offered to gather members with expertise to speak with the St Andrews management team and board about the problems we have seen and heard from our members. They declined our offer of advice and support. This demonstrates an organisation that is in no way ready to reflect on what they do and operate transparently, let alone provide effective assessment and treatment to people who are in crisis. Spending vast amounts of public money on poor services where people who need help are abused and neglected is shameful.”

Support for people concerned following the screening of ‘Under Lock and Key’

Respond is one of Learning Disability England’s members.  They work with children and adults with learning disabilities who have experienced abuse or trauma, as well as those who have abused others. The Respond support line is open 10.00am to 4.00pm on Thursdays during March.  Outside of these times, please see this document from LDE member the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.