Care services minister Ivan Lewis has launched a scathing attack on what he described as retrograde moves to put people with learning difficulties back in institutions.
Asked what he thought of the growing trend towards sending people with high support needs to new private hospitals, the minister said it is “unjustified”.
He told an all-party parliamentary group : “No adult with learning difficulties should be in hospital unless they are ill or a serious danger to themselves.
“Even with these modern new fancy buildings I can’t see why people with learning difficulties should be stuck in them.”
The minister conceded that the Valuing People initiative aimed at improving the life chances of service users had “slowed down”.
But he vowed to “reignite the passion” around the white paper proposals.
He said he had agreed a new structure with Rob Greig, national director for learning disability, and Nicola Smith, the learning disability tsar, to “drive forward reform from the centre”.
He added: “I hope and pray we are not going backwards on issues like closing down long say hospitals – and if we are we need to stop it.
“I have stood in some of these dreadful old hospitals and it was creepy to think that we put so many people in them for so many years – often for no reason. That was very wrong.”
He agreed to look into moves by some local authorities to commission services for people with learning difficulties from private providers in new purpose built hospitals and said he would report back to the all-party group on what he found.
He said promoting the rights of people with learning difficulties is one of his passions. “We need to take abuse more seriously. Society takes it as read that it is evil to abuse children. We need to engender the same determination to eradicate abuse of vulnerable adults and the same level of public outrage when it happens.”