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Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2011): Mental health services - UK

Continuing journey

A. Williams

Learning Disability Today, July 2011, p. 12-13

Historically, people with learning disabilities faced inequalities in health, housing and employment. They received poor care from the NHS and were vulnerable to social isolation, bullying and hate crime. In spite of a series of inquiries into scandals and positive initiatives such as Valuing People and Valuing People Now, change has proved difficult and many of the issues raised by the White Paper Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped forty years before remained valid in 2011.

Experts: cuts create mental health crisis

M. Taylor and J. Domokos

The Guardian, June 1st 2011, p. 1

The government's changes to the welfare system are having a devastating impact on hundreds of thousands of people with mental health problems and have driven some of the most vulnerable to take their own lives according to charities and medical experts.

Getting heard

P. Letts

Mental Health Today, June 2011, p.14-16

The First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health) is the primary means for patients in England to appeal against their compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act 1983. In 2010 the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council and the Care Quality Commission conducted interviews with 152 patients to explore their experiences of applying to and appearing before the tribunal. The interviews covered the time taken to deal with the application, access to, and standards of, legal advice, the pre-hearing medical examination, the tribunal hearing and the decision. Although a limited pilot, the project's findings provide new insights into known problems and highlight some new issues.

HIV and mental health

N. Jacobs

Mental Health Today, June 2011, p. 29-32

People living with HIV/AIDS are twice as likely to suffer from depression as the general population. This article reports on research undertaken by the National AIDS Trust looking at psychological support for people living with HIV. Data gathered from focus groups and an expert seminar showed that: 1) experiences of mental health services varies across the country; 2) psychological support is most valued at times of stress; and 3) psychological intervention can make a considerable difference to long term health and well being. The main recommendation arising from the research was that there should be standards for psychological support for people living with HIV; these were being finalised at the time of writing.

Hospital accused of abuse closes

S. Morris

The Guardian, June 21st 2011, p. 12

A private hospital at the centre of allegations of abuse of vulnerable adult patients with learning disabilities is to close down. The owners of Winterbourne View, near Bristol, where 13 members of staff have been suspended after an investigation by the BBC's Panorama, have 'voluntarily relinquished the hospital's registration'. In a short statement, the County Durham-based firm Castlebeck said: 'The hospital will effectively close this Friday when the last patients are transferred to alternative services.'

Mental health in crisis over staff shortages

A. Hill

The Guardian, June 21st 2011, p. 1

Overcrowding and understaffing in psychiatric wards across the country is so serious that inpatients are scared, bored and their illnesses often exacerbated. The admissions were part of an exclusive, final interview by the outgoing president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Dinesh Bhugra. Bhugra also expressed fears that bed occupancy of up to 120% in some wards is resulting in sufferers being released back into society, despite remaining a danger to themselves and others.

On the edge

R. Shrubb

Learning Disability Today, June 2011, p. 10-11

Many service users and their families who administer direct payments are having their personal budgets slashed as local authorities face government funding cuts. This article presents case studies of the impact of personal budget reductions on people with learning disabilities. It demonstrates that such cuts are a false economy as direct service provision would cost more.

Personalisation and learning disability: a handbook

A. Tyson

Pavilion Publishing, 2011

If people with learning disabilities are to live a good life and contribute to society, they need personalised support. This handbook collects observations from some of those with practical experience of leading the change towards personalised services. Chapters cover the importance of choice, tools for successful support planning, the role of specialist provider organisations, brokers, commissioners and social workers, judging success, the importance of collaboration between learning disabled people, their families and social workers, and possible future developments.

Planned pregnancy, planned parenting: enabling choice for adults with a learning disability

J. Conder and others

British Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 39, 2011, p. 105-112

Many adults with a learning disability want to be parents. Parents with a learning disability can care well for their children, but may need support from family, friends and a range of services. Enabling informed decisions about becoming a parent could increase the number of parents with a learning disability who can successfully raise their own children. In this article, stories that highlight the experiences of six parents are used to illustrate issues relevant to informed decision-making, including knowledge of contraception, the development of parenting skills and the importance of social support. Through the contrasting stories, a combination of family support and appropriately responsive services was identified as critical to the development of a positive parenting context.

'Torture' of patients leads to surprise checks on hospitals

S. Lister

The Times, June 2nd, 2011 p. 11

'Inquiry into how watchdog failed to spot abuse' Following secret filming for the BBC television programme Panorama an urgent review is to be carried out into the 'inhumane' abuse of people with learning difficulties at Winterbourne View, a residential hospital in Bristol and why it was not picked up by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The second batch of reports published by CQC reviewing the care of older people in hospitals in England included this privately run hospital amongst its revelations that two NHS trusts failed to meet the basic standards of care.

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