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Winterbourne 10 | We need the courage to put things right

Winterbourne View 10th anniversary: looking back and looking forward

31st May 2021 is the 10th anniversary of the BBC Panorama programme that exposed the horrific abuse of people with learning disabilities and autism at Winterbourne View, a private hospital that was being paid an average of £3,500 per week for each patient placed there by the NHS.

Zetetick Housing stands with the #Winterbourne10 campaign to end the unnecessary detention of people with learning disabilities.

JS Winterbourne 1 winterbourne

Jonathan Spencer, Zetetick’s Deputy CEO

Missed targets and a legal challenge

As a result of the scandal, the Department of Health’s Transforming Care report in 2012 set out a programme to halve the number of people with learning disabilities and autism in inpatient settings by 2019.

A further report by NHS England, ‘Winterbourne View – Time for Change’ was published in 2014, recommended moving people from ‘inappropriate’ institutional care, but nowhere near enough has been done to move people out of these ‘inappropriate’ settings where people are mistreated, often deteriorate, and suffer loneliness and isolation far away from loved ones.

Another scandal of abuse broke in 2019 at Whorlton Hall, and as recently as September 2020 yet another scandal showed patients being abused on CCTV footage at Cygnet Health Care hospital.

Needless to say the Department of Health’s deadline of 2019 was missed and has been continually extended. It now aims to reach the target by 2024.

The failure to meet targets to get people with autism and learning disabilities out of long-term, unnecessary inpatient care – ‘warehousing’ – was the subject of a legal challenge to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care by EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) in February 2020. However since Covid-19, which in itself massively affected people with learning disabilities and autism disproportionately due to inequalities, this target seems to be on the back burner.

The numbers

In 2012 there were 3,400 people with learning disabilities in NHS-funded inpatient care. According to NHS Digital and Mencap, there are still at least 2,040 people with a learning disability and/or autism still in inpatient units.


Mencap & NHS Digital

What is needed? More housing!

In March 2020 the NDTi report ‘Close to Home’ found an increase in the number of people held long term in out of area placements was due not to lack of mental health beds as had been suggested, but because of the lack of services in the community – social care, housing and support. In addition the CQC reported that a shortage of suitable care in the community was preventing the discharge of 60% of people, even though ‘local help centred on the individual is likely to cost less than the huge sums paid for inpatient care’ – a conclusion also reported by other organisations.

In their guide to moving out of ATUs, Dimensions stated:

‘The right housing can obviously make or break a move into the community.’

Housing is cheaper than inpatient beds

The huge amounts paid by the NHS to Winterbourne View has already been noted. With regard to the large amounts that continue to be paid to private providers of inpatient services, the CQC has acknowledged a conflict of interest as independent providers detaining people long term would suffer financially by discharging them.

In their report about ATUs, Dimensions also stated:

‘We know community-based services are not only better in terms of quality of life and outcomes, they are cheaper as well.’


Zetetick’s value for money supported living

Zetetick Housing is a registered charity specialising in providing exempt accommodation to people with disabilities, learning disabilities, learning difficulties, autism and mental health problems, under the specified clauses of housing legislation. We believe that people have the right to live in their own homes, near friends and loved ones.

Because we rent properties on the private rental market – anything from 1 bedroom flats to large detached houses – we can be totally flexible and find a home to suit the tenant rather than the other way round.

At Zetetick we believe that a person-centred approach is the right one – to treat the person as an individual, to find out what they like and what they want, and to give them choice about the kind of home they want to live in. If these conditions are met, and with the right support and team in place, the chances of the move to supported living being successful are high.

For care commissioners, Zetetick housing can make things happen very quickly if necessary. We are also involved in longer-term projects to develop older buildings and turn them into purpose-built accommodation for supported living. We can put together multidisciplinary teams to create housing that is a joy to live in as well as being extremely cost-effective. We did exactly this in Croydon where we worked with the council, a care provider and a local developer to convert Henderson House Henderson House supported living croydon, a disused film processing plant to a beautiful building containing 10 top quality self-contained flats, a communal area and office, making best use of personal support worker resources.

If you have are a local authority care commissioner, social worker, care provider or family member looking for supported living in the South East, get in touch.


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