Ivan Lewis has invited councils and primary care trusts to bid for £175m to help move people with learning disabilities out of NHS campuses by 2010.
The care services minister said closing the campuses – small homes where research has shown residents have fewer friends, less choice and fewer things to do than people with learning disabilities in other settings – “would close one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history”.
People were moved into NHS campuses, where they are classed as in-patients and lack housing rights, following the closure of the vast majority of long-stay hospitals, institutions which Lewis said “had disfigured our society”.
Getting the NHS to move people out of campuses and into supported living more quickly is one of the aims of Community Care’s A Life Like Any Other campaign to improve the life chances of people with learning disabilities.
There are at least 1,600 people living in campuses, but in June Community Care revealed that the true figure could be much higher. This was because many primary care trusts did not know how many people originally admitted for assessment and treatment had become resident in campuses.
A letter sent to primary care trusts to accompany Ivan Lewis’ announcement said the money announced by Ivan Lewis would be available from 2007-10 and could only be used to develop accommodation and day facilities in the community.
It also said that from October, PCTs will be mandated to provide information on the number of people still in NHS campuses.
Editorial comment: Time to close NHS campuses