The government has announced £62m of funding to accelerate the discharge of patients with learning disabilities or autism from mental health hospitals into the community.
Named the Community Discharge Fund, the money will help to move people with learning disabilities and autistic people into more appropriate care.
The fund will be split over three years and give local authorities additional money to remove some of the obstacles to discharging inpatients.
The new funding will help to cover ‘double-running’ costs such as establishing community teams, funding accommodation and staff training.
Local authorities and Transforming Care Partnerships will be able to use the funding on the most appropriate measures for their area.
It comes as the health secretary Matt Hancock called for a renewed focus to ensure people with learning disabilities or autism are discharged promptly from hospital back into the community.
‘Far too many people with learning disabilities and autistic people remain in hospital when they could receive better-suited support in their communities, closer to their homes and loved ones,’ said Mr Hancock.
‘So, I am delighted this new funding will help local authorities to support discharges into the community more quickly for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.’
Last year, the health secretary asked Baroness Hollins to oversee the independent case reviews for people with a learning disability or autism who were identified as being in long-term segregation.
The reviews have made recommendations in each case to support moving people to less restrictive settings as quickly as possible.
Baroness Hollins has now appointed an oversight panel, which will examine findings from these reviews and develop recommendations to the government.
‘Since November I have been reviewing all of those instances when people with learning disabilities and autistic people have been detained in long-term segregation,’ said the Baroness.
‘I have now appointed an oversight panel to assist me in understanding what I have found out, and in making urgent recommendations to the government. Our aim is to prevent the use of seclusion and restraint in future,’ she added.
‘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.’
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