Election 2019

Election 2019, Your Questions Answered: Care away from home

Gillian caring for her daughter Lee Image copyright Gillian Mead
Image caption Gillian's daughter Lee (left), is being cared for in a private facility paid for by the NHS

Gillian Mead's daughter Lee has autism, sensory issues and learning difficulties and requires 24/7 care.

The 44-year-old had been living in supported accommodation near the family home in Dilton Marsh, Wiltshire.

In 2018 she was moved to a private facility, paid for by the NHS, 76 miles away.

"I think I'll have to work on her anxiety if she is to come home locally," Mrs Mead said.

A recent report blames cutbacks in the number of specialist units, as, despite a drive to treat people closer to home, there are no longer enough units to do so in many places.

Freedom of Information requests by the British Medical Association revealed that a total of £181m was spent by NHS trusts sending patients of her type to private hospitals in 2018/19.

Mrs Mead used Your Questions Answered to ask what will be done to deal with patients with severe learning difficulties being treated far from home.

We put the question to the candidates standing in Mrs Mead's constituency of South West Wiltshire.

Dr Andrew Murrison - Conservative Party candidate

"Vulnerable people should be able to access services close to their homes, families and community support mechanisms.

"A local example which has been in the news a lot recently is Larkrise School for children with special educational needs. Thanks to a lot of hard work we are on the way to securing its future in Trowbridge.

"The Care Quality Commission in its December 2018 report highlighted care of people with learning disability and autism in our area as needing significant improvement.

"The government's £33.9bn announced last year for the NHS included a welcome £2.3bn to upgrade mental health services which should assist the mental health trust in securing services for vulnerable people with complex needs locally."

Ellen Nicholson - Liberal Democrat Party Candidate

"I would collaborate with the stake holders, Clinical Commissioning Group and Wiltshire Council to ensure proactive support and an integrated care model for clients, families and carers, recognising that there is a lack of joined up commissioning for people with learning disability and or autism.

"I would also wish to see the full introduction of Sir Stephen Bubb's 'Time For Change' report recommendations.

"Care and support services need to be redesigned to enable those clients placed far from home to have suitable facilities available closer to home in Wiltshire, developing a person centred approach.

"Furthermore I would want to look at the transition services around young people moving to adult services and ensure they receive the uninterrupted care they deserve."

Julie Phillips - Green Party Candidate

"The situation reflects the inadequate funding of the NHS and social care under the current government's austerity policy over the last nine years which has left Wiltshire with very little provision for adults with learning difficulties.

"The Green Party intends to reverse this policy and fund the NHS by at least £6bn per year, each year until 2030, and allocate at least £4.9bn to local authorities to support people to live more independently.

She added that "services would be put on a par with physical conditions treated by the NHS under a holistic concept of well-being that would require more local NHS health centres meeting a wider range of needs and more accessible to the local population."

Emily Pomroy-Smith - Labour Party Candidate

"I have personal experience of caring for a family member with mental and physical illness, and I know that it can be a constant up hill battle, fighting to get the care that they need. It shouldn't be.

"The Labour manifesto lays out a comprehensive plan in relation to social care, including creating a National Care Service for England, we will invest heavily, reversing the Conservative cuts, and more than double the number of people, including autistic people and those with learning difficulties, receiving funded care packages, enabling them to live in their own homes.

"We will also be investing £2bn to modernise hospital facilities, so that where appropriate, and when needed, there will no longer be inappropriate out-of-area placements.

"One hundred and twenty-five young people in Wiltshire are due to leave care in the next three years, and without appropriate investment this problem will only get worse."

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