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One in five inpatients with learning disabilities is being treated 100km or more away from home

• New statistics published in response to Winterbourne View report

HSCIC must be credited as the source of the figures in this release

*Regional information available from this report

December 13, 2013: A new report in response to events at Winterbourne View2 Hospital is published today, providing information on hospital inpatients with learning disabilities3 in England.

Of the 3,250 hospital inpatients included in the 2013 Learning Disability Census4, around one in five (18.2 per cent or 570 individuals) were staying in hospital wards 100km or more from their home5. About the same proportion (19.6 per cent or 612) stayed in wards within 10km of their residential postcode and 7.7 per cent (240 people) were resident in hospital, with the same postcode recorded for both residence and hospital.

The census was initiated by the Department of Health and carried out by the HSCIC to provide figures to address some of the concerns laid out in the Government report 'Transforming care: a national response to Winterbourne View Hospital'. One of the concerns raised in Transforming care was the distance inpatients were from home6.

Responses were received from 104 NHS and independent providers in England and provide a snapshot at 30 September 20137. Initial findings on the September 2013 census are released today, with further analysis to be carried out and published in 2014. The census will be re-run in September 2014 in order to identify change and particularly, where appropriate, reductions in inpatient care in favour of more suitable community care and support options. The census for 2013 further shows:

  • Almost half (49.5 per cent or 1,581) of inpatients for whom a ward postcode was known were treated in hospitals located in just 8 per cent (12) of local authorities.
  • Among inpatients who normally resided in the South West more than half (52.6 per cent or 80) were in wards 100km or more from home, compared to 8.8 per cent (or 29 inpatients) who normally resided in the North East.
  • The majority of the inpatients in the census (2,994 or 92.1 per cent) were aged between 18 and 64, with under-18s making up 5.7 per cent (185) and patients aged 65 and over 2.2 per cent (71).
  • Nearly two in ten (18.5 per cent or 601) had been inpatients for three months or fewer, compared to six in ten (60.0 per cent or 1,949) who been inpatients a year or more. Among the 1,949 who had been in hospital for a year or more, 572 had been inpatients for five or more years.
  • The proportion who had been inpatients for five years or more was higher among those aged 65 and over (38.0 per cent or 27 out of 71), compared to those aged between 18 and 64 (17.7 per cent or 531 out of 2,994). For inpatients aged 18 and under 7.6 per cent (14 inpatients out of 185) had been inpatients for five or more years.

Chair of the HSCIC, Kingsley Manning said: "This census is an important contribution to understanding how episodes such as those seen at Winterbourne View Hospital can be avoided in the future.

"This report provides a benchmark on the numbers of inpatients with learning disabilities, highlighting evidence that many have been a long way from home for some time. Contact with family, friends, advocates and commissioners is an important part of ensuring people with learning disabilities get high quality care, responsive to their needs."

Read the full report here:  


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). The trusted source of authoritative data and information relating to health and care, HSCIC plays a fundamental role in driving better care, better services and better outcomes for patients. It supports the delivery of IT infrastructure, information systems and standards to ensure information flows efficiently and securely across the health and social care system to improve patient outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. A May 2011 BBC Panorama programme broadcast footage of apparent abuse by staff of inpatients in Winterbourne View Hospital, many of whom had learning disabilities.

3. Inpatients included in this report were individuals with diagnosed or understood learning disabilities who were receiving treatment and care in NHS and independent sector hospitals in England. Additionally, the inpatients may have been receiving care for mental health needs, have needs associated with autism spectrum disorder and/or may have presented 'behaviour that challenges'. There is no set clinical definition for behaviour that challenges. One academic definition is: "Culturally abnormal behaviour(s) of such an intensity, frequency or duration that the physical safety of the person or others is likely to be placed in serious jeopardy, or behaviour which is likely to seriously limit use of, or result in the person being denied access to, ordinary community facilities." Ref: Emerson, 1995, cited in Emerson, E (2001, 2nd edition): Challenging Behaviour: Analysis and intervention in people with learning disabilities. Cambridge University Press

4. For more information on the Learning Disability Census, including a full list of the details of the questions asked of providers, see here:

5. Distance has been measured as the crow flies between the institution where the individual is staying and the residential postcode.

6. Transforming care: a national response to Winterbourne View hospital can be found here: On page 20 of Transforming care, it is stated: "Sending people out of area into hospital or large residential settings can cause real harm to individuals by weakening relationships with family and friends and taking them away from familiar places and community. It can damage continuity of care. It can also mean putting people into settings which they find stressful or frightening. This can damage mental health or increase the likelihood of challenging behaviour..."

7. Of the 106 providers (58 NHS and 48 private) that were in scope for the census, information was received from 104 providers. Cross-referencing with other available data sources on the number of providers was undertaken to ensure as comprehensive coverage as possible. More information on data quality and completeness can be found on the associated data quality report on this page:

8. For media enquiries or interview requests please contact the press office on 0845 257 6990 or

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