The two heads of the government-backed programme to transform learning disability care following Winterbourne View have stepped down.
Chris Bull left his part-time role leading the Winterbourne View Joint Improvement Programme (WVJIP) last month to enable the appointment of a full-time programme director. Bull had combined the role with another as local government adviser to Public Health England.
Ian Winter – who had effectively been Bull’s number two on the WVJIP – leaves next week when his contract comes to an end.
The programme is designed to help council and NHS commissioners achieve the government’s objective of moving people with learning disabilities or autism and ‘challenging behaviour’ from inappropriate hospital placements back home to their communities by 1 June 2014.
Bull had led the programme, which is overseen by the Local Government Association and the NHS England, since its launch in December 2012. The news of his and Winter’s departure comes ahead of the publication of report measuring progress on the post-Winterbourne objectives in all 152 local areas in England.
“Following the publication of these reports, the programme is now moving into the improvement phase, in which the team will help local areas address the challenges in moving people from in-patient settings into suitable community-based care,” said a spokesperson for the WVJIP.
“Chris Bull and Ian Winter have made valuable contributions to the programme in its initial phase. As the focus of the programme changes, the opportunity has been taken to review the structure of the team in order to ensure that it reflects the requirements of the next stage.
“Interim arrangements to oversee the programme have been in place since Chris’ departure and his successor will be announced imminently. Ian Winter’s contract will end on 17 December. The new programme director, once in place, will decide how the programme is best staffed for the next phase.”
The progress reports published this week are informed by a stocktake carried out by the WVJIP on local progress against the objectives of the government’s response to Winterbourne View, Transforming Care, published last December.
This found that a key barrier was a lack of pooled funding across councils and NHS clinical commissioning groups to support joint commissioning of support. The service users concerned are typically funded by NHS commissioners in hospital settings, such as assessment and treatment units, but by moving back to their communities their needs, besides those for healthcare, would predominantly be met by local authorities.
This means the release of NHS resources saved from hospital placements to fund community-based care in tandem with local authorities is crucial is critical to the success of the programme. However, the stocktake found that in just under 40% of areas funding contributions for supporting the client group had been agreed by councils and CCGs.
Since the stocktake, the WVJIP has begun a programme of tailored support for local areas to help achieve the government’s objectives, and those of a separate “concordat” of actions signed by sector leaders.
Some local areas will undergo a “deep dive”, in which programme staff will carry out an in-depth assessment of progress, either to identify good practice or to explore areas of concern, such as an area having significant numbers of challenging placements.
In addition, an enhanced quality assurance team, consisting of nurses and social workers, has been set up to review the cases of patients formerly placed at Winterbourne View, others in providers about which there are concerns and a sample of cases from around the country.