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09th April 2019

ATUs and Inpatient Units: What you Need to Know

Earlier this month, we had a meeting with Ray James, the National Learning Disability Director for NHS England.


We were talking about the treatment of people with learning disabilities in inpatient units, and how the NHS is working to get people back into the community.



This is an important issue and has been talked about in the news and even parliament.

Here is what we think you should know…

In October 2018 there were 2,350 people with learning disabilities or autism in inpatient units.


This is a bit less than before but it is still a lot of people stuck in hospitals and not able to participate in the community.

58% the people had been in the inpatient units for more than 2 years and lots of them were young people.

Ray James told us that a person should be in inpatient units for 8-12 months at the most, so clearly, people are staying in hospitals too long.

In fact, according to Transforming Care statistics, the care plans for 28% of all people with learning disabilities and autistic people in inpatient units, say they don't need to be there.

We think this is very sad because people cannot lead full lives if they are in hospitals or inpatient units.

They cannot have jobs, or go where they want, it is harder for them to see friends and family, and they cannot be a part of the community.

We are also worried by reports that say restraint and solitary confinement are being used more.

Restraint means being physically held down.

It is used to stop people doing things that people think are unsafe or bad, but we think it is a bad idea because it can hurt people and would feel horrible.

Solitary confinement mean being locked in a room on your own.

It is used if doctors think the person could be dangerous to themselves of other people but we think it would be horrible and studies show it actually makes people more ill.

Overall, we think there are lots of problems with people with learning disabilities in inpatient units.

Too many people are in them, for too long, and sometimes care is not good enough.

We are pleased that the government is doing something to address these issues such as the Transforming Care Programme, and hearing evidence in parliament.

However, we think a lot more needs to be done!

Over the next year, we will be campaigning against people being locked up in hospitals.

We hope the government will listen and things will change!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

My Life My Choice

MLMC is an Oxfordshire based charity with a national profile whose prime objective is to raise the self-esteem and quality of life for people with learning disabilities. They do this by campaigning, and providing volunteering, training, employment and social opportunities for its members. MLMC also work with other organisations to help produce information for people with learning and communication difficulties that is simple and easy to understand. Read more

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