Task force calls for an end to exclusion

People with severe learning difficulties are still being excluded
and discriminated against by services, according to the Learning
Disability Task Force.

Its second annual report says those with high support needs (people
with profound learning difficulties or learning difficulty and
additional disability) and ethnic minorities are most likely to be
in long-stay hospitals and face discrimination in employment,
education, health and social services.

Task force co-chairperson Michelle Chinery said while there are
improvements in services, “there are still far too many people and
families excluded from our mainstream services”.

Some families have also told the task force that things are getting
worse for them. The report warns that there are insufficient
services to allow families of service users a break and calls on
the Social Exclusion Unit to look at the needs of carers.

Although service users are concerned that the draft Mental
Incapacity Bill and Sexual Offences Bill could be used to stop
people with learning difficulties from making their own decisions,
the task force is pleased that the focus on transport in the new
draft Disability Discrimination Bill will improve accessibility for
service users.

The task force has also raised concerns that funding designed for
developing services for people with learning difficulties is being
diverted elsewhere.

As the fund is not ring-fenced, only £13m of the £20m has
been spent on learning difficulties services, with the rest moved
to meet other NHS priorities. The report calls on the government to
ensure the money is spent on learning difficulties services.

– Report from www.doh.gov.uk/learningdisabilities

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