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Second annual Learning Disability Census shows more than half of inpatients remain in hospital, while majority not ready for discharge

29 January 2015: The Learning Disability Census was initiated in response to events at Winterbourne View Hospital and the details of the second annual census are published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

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

The census considers inpatients with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder and/or behaviour that challenges, giving information about their characteristics and their experiences of care in NHS and independent facilities in England.2

It finds that more than half of inpatients who were included in the 2013 Learning Disability Census were still in specialist units one year later (1,8303 of the 3,250 inpatients counted in 2013).

On 30 September 2014, 3,230 individuals met the criteria4 of the census, compared to 3,2505 who were included in the 2013 headcount.

The most recent census provides information on why individuals were inpatients on the day of the census6, showing 2,545 patients (79 per cent) were considered not ready for discharge. The most common reason reported by providers (for 1,365 individuals or 42 per cent of inpatients) was a continuing need for inpatient care due to mental illness. The second most cited reason was that inpatients were receiving a continuing behavioural treatment programme (695 or 21 per cent) and third that the individual's current behaviour was assessed as too risky for the Ministry of Justice7 to agree any reduction in security level (485 or 15 per cent).

The Learning Disability Census Report, England, 2014 also found:

  • The use of antipsychotic medication has increased. On census day in 2014, 2,345 patients (73 per cent) received antipsychotic medication either regularly or 'as and when needed' in the 28 days prior to the census collection, compared to 2,220 patients (68 per cent) in 2013.
  • The number of patients who experienced one or more incident (self-harm, accident, physical assault, restraint or seclusion) dropped slightly. In 2014, 1,780 patients (55 per cent) had one or more incidents reported in the three months prior to census day, compared to 1,875 (58 per cent) in 2013.
  • The median average8 length of stay was 547 days for the 2014 census, compared to 542 in 2013.
  • The median average distance from home9 in 2014 was 34.4 km, compared to 34.5km in 2013

Chair of the HSCIC, Kingsley Manning said: "This report provides insights which are intended to help inform improvements in the provision of care for people with learning disabilities and will be of interest to mental health professionals as well as patients, their families and representative organisations."

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 of inpatients, many of whom had learning disabilities, by staff at Winterbourne View Hospital. The census was initiated in order to deliver one of the actions in Transforming Care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital. It provides definitive and comprehensive information about the population size, characteristics, and experience of care, of people whose treatment, care and support needs may be similar to those treated in Winterbourne View. For more information on the Learning Disability Census, including a full list of the details of the questions asked of providers, see here:

3. Numbers of inpatients in this press release have been rounded to the nearest five. Please note that in the published report, numbers of inpatients in 2013 are unrounded, numbers of inpatients in 2014 are rounded to the nearest five. They have all been rounded in the press release for consistency within the press release. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number; or this reason on some breakdowns, percentages may not add up to 100.

4. The census collected information on inpatients receiving treatment or care in a facility registered by the Care Quality Commission as a hospital operated by either an NHS or independent sector provider which provides mental or behavioural healthcare in England.

Record level returns reflect only inpatients (or individuals on leave with a bed held vacant for them) at midnight on 30September 2014. The individual will have 'a bed' normally designated for the treatment or care of people with a learning disability or will have 'a bed' designated for mental illness treatment or care and will be diagnosed with or understood to have a learning disability and or autistic spectrum disorder. Responses were received from all 106 in-scope care providers, of which 92 had patients meeting the criteria of the census.

5. Admission dates given by providers for inpatients included in the 2014 census suggested there were 370 patients who may have been eligible for inclusion in the 2013 Census, but were not included by data providers. This would have increased the total number in scope for the 2013 census to 3,620. However, the 2013 figures are used in order that detailed comparisons can be made.

6. These data are based on a question regarding the main treatment reason for being in inpatient care and was additional for the 2014 census and therefore no comparison with 2013 is available.

7. Inpatients who are placed in specialist units as the result of criminal justice proceedings require Ministry of Justice approval before they can be discharged into the community (or to a less secure environment).

8. Distance has been measured as the crow flies between the facility where the individual is staying and the residential postcode. Inpatients for whom no home address was supplied by providers or who have a hospital address as their home address are not included in this statistic.

9. The median average has been used measure since this measure is less influenced by data outliers then the mean average calculation. Mean figures are provided in the report.

10. For media enquires please call 0300 30 33 888 or email

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