Thank you for contacting me about MENCAP's campaign on inpatient units for people with learning disabilities and autism.
Since 2015, the number of people in inpatient care has reduced by almost a fifth, which is welcome progress. The NHS Long Term Plan proposed key changes to inpatient units for those with learning disabilities and autism.
This includes commitments to reduce the number of admissions and decrease the amount of time spent in these units by 2024. I was also pleased to see these commitments renewed in the Autism Strategy (published in 2021).
This will enable more people to receive personalised care in the community, closer to home, and reduce preventable admissions to inpatient services.
I fully share your concern that people with autism are still being admitted to these units. The Autism Strategy committed to improving the identification and diagnosis of autism when patients are admitted into inpatient care.
Changes are also being brought forward to the Mental Health Act 1983 to ensure that autistic people are only admitted to inpatient mental health settings if absolutely necessary.
These changes would mean that autism alone is no longer a lawful basis for ongoing detention in inpatient care and would enable people in inpatient care to be discharged as soon as they are well enough to leave.
A draft Mental Health Bill, which contains these proposals, has recently completed pre-legislative scrutiny by backbench MPs. The Government is considering the recommendations made by MPs and will introduce the Bill when parliamentary time allows.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.