Children and adults with disabilities are at risk of “sickening abuse” because the NHS has failed to transfer them to suitable accommodation.
The Telegraph reports that ministers had pledged that around 3,000 people with autism and learning disabilities would have their care reviewed following a major scandal at the Winterbourne View hospital in Bristol three years ago, in which patients were tortured by staff.
Latest figures reveal, however, that just one in 10 patients have been transferred.
In a letter in today’s Daily Telegraph, families of the victims of the victims accuse the government of an “appalling failure”.
They write: “Today we have seen the appalling failure of the Government, the NHS and Local Authorities to meet their own deadline for moving people with a learning disability out of places like Winterbourne View. “
They say that in some cases, children have been put in units hundreds of miles from their families, leaving them vulnerable to abuse from staff.
The families say: “This breaks a promise made to the families of people who have faced abuse and everyone who watched Panorama and demanded change. But most of all, it is a betrayal of our loved ones who remain in these units, at risk of abuse and neglect, isolated and away from their families.”
They add: “The time for talking and excuses is over. The Prime Minister must take personal responsibility and address this failure of national government, local government and the NHS.”
After the BBC’s Panorama programme exposed the scandal in 2011, six care workers were jailed for ill-treatment of vulnerable people.
In a joint statement, Jan Tregelles of charity Mencap and Vivien Cooper of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation said: “It is three years since the nation was shocked and sickened to witness the systematic abuse of people with a learning disability at Winterbourne View.
“Today we have seen the appalling failure of the Government, the NHS and Local Authorities to meet their own deadline for moving people with a learning disability out of places like Winterbourne View. Worse still, we know more people are being admitted to these units than are being transferred out.”
Health minister Norman Lamb said he was “deeply frustrated” at the lack of progress, blaming NHS authorities for not following ministers’ orders.
“It is impossible for anyone in Whitehall to mandate where each individual person with learning disabilities is treated, but what I find really distressing is that NHS commissioners pledged a really fundamental change in the model of care, yet people are still being condemned to long stays in these institutions,” he said.
“There is a moral imperative here; it is intolerable that people with learning disabilities are being treated as second class citizens.”