Long-term care patients moved to private beds in spite of guidance
People with learning difficulties are being moved out of long-stay
NHS hospitals into private institutions in the face of government
guidance calling for people to receive community care.
Private provider Care Principles admitted this week it was planning
70 new beds and said some patients had come from long-stay
Another provider, Castlebeck, confirmed it was “expanding existing
provision” but refused to comment further.
A source close to the Department of Health also revealed a case
where a local authority was attempting to refer an individual to a
private institution after an NHS long-stay hospital closed.
The news comes despite government guidance calling for
commissioners to place people “as far as possible in community
rather than institutional settings”.
This followed comments from former community care minister Stephen
Ladyman criticising councils for “reinventing the long-stay
hospital by the backdoor” by placing people in private sector
But Yvonne Cox, chief executive of Oxfordshire Learning Disability
NHS Trust, said it would be “hard to find a primary care trust
which had read [the guidance]”.
She said that, although commissioners were beginning to be aware of
the issue, there was a lack of community provision.
Rob Greig, director of the Valuing People support team, said he was
concerned that the developments were occurring despite “categoric
assurance” he had received from strategic health authorities that
no people were being moved into private institutions when long-stay
But Dr Simon Halstead, medical director of Care Principles,
defended the use of private institutions, arguing that the Valuing
People programme “skirted around” the needs of people who were “too
dangerous” to be placed in the community.
He said: “Valuing People is full of constructive ideas for the vast
majority, but there is a small group whose needs fall outside that
frame of reference. We are taking up a client group that would
previously have found a home in a long-stay hospital.”
But Greig said: “I do not accept that a significant number of
people cannot be supported in the community.”