Ivan Lewis renews criticisms of learning disability services

Care services minister Ivan Lewis has renewed criticisms of the lack of progress in learning disability services since the 2001 Valuing People white paper, in parliament this week.

He made the comments to the joint committee on human rights on Monday, ahead of the publication, this month or next, of a follow-up to Valuing People, designed to renew the agenda.

Lewis said: “Frankly, there’s been a slowing down of the progress we wanted to make,” he said. “We cannot ignore the fact that there is bad practice.”

GP and hospital services were an area of particular concern. “There has been a struggle to get the NHS to take people with learning disabilities as seriously as they should,” Ivan Lewis told the committee. “Access to mainstream NHS services are not anywhere near good enough.”

During the hearing – part of the committee’s current inquiry into the human rights of people with learning disabilities – Lewis championed the personalisation of social care, which he saw as a “Brownite” agenda, and said he had a “missionary zeal” over rights to independent living.

However, he admitted that learning disability partnership boards, which were set up to involve service users in decisions that affect them, were not always effective and that some local authorities were “going through the motions”. He called on people with learning disabilities and their families to “challenge the system when the system isn’t working”. “A lot of money is tied up in out-of-date services that people don’t need and don’t want,” he added.

Community Care is campaigning to improve the life chances of people with learning disabilities in our A Life Like Any Other campaign.

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More information

Joint committee on human rights learning disabilities inquiry

Valuing People white paper

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