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Can An NHS England Learning Disability Director Bring The Change We Have All Been Waiting For?
We were pleased to hear that Ray James has been appointed the first National Learning Disability Director at NHS England, and would like to congratulate him on getting the job.
We think it is a good thing that NHS England now has a national Learning Disability Director to help the 2,500 people with learning disabilities who are still stuck in hospitals (like Winterbourne View) in England.
It is easy to make promises about the things that should happen, but for things to change there need to be structures in place to make people accountable. We hope that Ray James can hold commissioners to account.
We also think that some of the things that Ray James said in this interview in the Guardian make him a good person for the job.
He said: “I do have a problem with progress being expressed solely in bed closures. Much better to be able to say people are leading better lives.”
We agree with this. “Not being in hospital” is not a good enough ambition for the lives of people with learning disabilities, it is a bare minimum.
We hope that Ray James can make a difference to the amount of support given to people with learning disabilities living in the community, to help them to live good lives and to reduce the risk of hospital admission.
We also hope that, despite working for the NHS, he is able to do something about the growing provision of learning disability inpatient services by independent sector companies.
As is explained in the report “A Trade in People”, it is important that these services have the same level of scrutiny as NHS services for people with learning disabilities.
We also hope that he will use the expertise of people with learning disabilities and the people who support them to do his job better.
Good Luck Ray!
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