On 29 May, People First Self Advocacy Director Andrew Lee issued a statement about the latest scandal. This followed a letter to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock in response to the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review LeDeR Programme report from People First members. Andrew responded to the Whorlton Hall reports with a press release saying:
"As with Winterbourne, the news of Whorlton Hall brought tears, upset and anger to me and many other people I know. Our thoughts go to all of the people who experienced this abuse. We need to make sure this does not happen again. Moving people to ‘other’ closed institutions like Whorlton Hall is obviously not the answer. People are being sent far away from friends and family at great cost to the authorities and at even greater and more tragic cost to people with learning difficulties and their loved ones."
Andrew Lee's statement
How many people with learning difficulties and autism need to die before the political promises become a reality?
Following the Whorlton Hall scandal, People First Self Advocacy called for the Government to make Article 19 of the UNCRPD (Living Independently and being included in the community) part of UK law, providing us with a statutory right to independent living and being close to our family and friends.
Our campaign #CloseATUs isn’t just about removing people from institutions, it’s about making sure there’s provision in the community such as adequate housing and social care support.
Everyone should have choice, control and independence and have support to live in their chosen community.
We’ve had major announcements and many recommendations following abuse scandals where people with learning difficulties and autism have died over the last nine years. These include the Dilnot Review ‘Fairer Care Funding’ in 2011, Transforming Care for People with Learning Disabilities 2015 and the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review LeDeR Programme report 2017.
Following the recommendations from the LeDeR report we wrote a letter to Matt Hancock about targets being set and not met, and about groups and taskforces being set up about us without us!
Apologies and promises after a scandal have no meaning if deaths and abuse continue to happen in these outdated, unsafe and isolated institutions. We want to see action, we want to see meaningful change.