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 Learning Disability Hospital

Thursday, 13 May 2010 06:05 UK

Some learning disability patients in long-stay disability hospitals have been waiting up to 15 years to be resettled, a new report has said.

According to a NI Assembly Public Accounts Committee report, this is despite being assessed as fit to leave and keen to move into the community.

It found that 250 patients were still in hospitals, many of whom were keen to be resettled.

The report examined Muckamore Abbey, Longstone and Lakeview hospitals.

The current target by the Department of Health for resettlement is 2013.

On Thursday, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said helping people with learning disabilities live independent lives in the community “remains a top priority for his department”.

In 2007, the BBC revealed that some patients were being kept in Muckamore Abbey 10 years after their treatment had been completed.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Paul Maskey, chairperson of the committee, said: “As long ago as 1995, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety decided that all long-stay patients with learning disabilities who were cared for in hospital should be offered a better life through resettlement in the community.

“The department’s initial target was to resettle all such patients by 2002.

“However, 15 years after the adoption of the resettlement policy, 250 long-stay patients, many of whom are keen to be resettled and have been assessed as fit, remain hospitalised, and the current target for resettlement is 2013. This is totally unacceptable.”

The committee also found that the majority of those resettled into the community were relocated to nursing homes and residential accommodation.

The committee considered that “moving from one institution to another like this did not provide opportunities for integration within the community”.

The report called on the department to “clearly demonstrate how future placements enhance the life of the patient and encourage integration”.

Commenting on the report, the health minister said his department “will contribute fully to addressing all the recommendations”.

Mr McGimpsey said that “the process of resettlement is a complex one”.

“Many patients have severe learning disabilities and require constant care and attention.

“For others it is essential that they are placed in a community setting which offers them support, security and companionship.”

Source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8678246.stm



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