Correspondence with the Department of Health


An email from the D of H 3rd November 2017, and my response on the 13th November


Thank you for your e-mail, which we will certainly bear in mind.

Our current policies –  to improve the health and wellbeing of people with learning disability, and to support independent living and employment, represent the goals which people with learning disability, and their families and carers want, and aim to remove the inequality which exists in society between people with a learning disability and those without.  In particular, supporting people with a learning disability to leave hospital, and live in the community, is specifically designed to alleviate suffering, and has the added benefit of saving taxpayers’ money.

I would agree wholeheartedly on the need for gaining a wide range of views and feedback to inform policy. This is certainly the basis on which current policy is developed. The Department engaged with a range of groups and organisations. In addition to ad hoc discussions, and formal mechanisms such as the Transforming Care Delivery Board, or the Children’s Complex Needs Board, we have regular discussions with the Learning Disability Professional Senate, for a view from the professions. We have also this year provided – together with NHS England and Public Health England – funding to partners to comprise a Health and Wellbeing Alliance; and there are several partners in this Alliance  – the Win-Win Consortium and the Valuing People Alliance – which will be supporting our engagement with people with learning disabilities and the organisations which represent them. We will of course be very keen to discuss with NICE the evidence and responses they have received as part of their consultation.

I hope that this provides some reassurance.

Best wishes










Gareth James

Policy and Strategy

Dementia and Disabilities

Social Care, Ageing and Disability Directorate

2E56, Department of Health, Quarry House,

Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2 7UE

0113 2545328  /  07867 832768

To Gareth James

Policy and Strategy

Dementia and Disabilities.

Social Care, Ageing and Disability Directorate

2E56 Department of Health, Quarry House

Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2 7UE



Thank you for your email of 3rd November 2017.

The objectives outlined in your first paragraph are highly commendable and I am sure that these meet the approval of the disadvantaged users, their carers, and taxpayers generally. I must point out, however, that these have been the basic aims of progressive practitioners for the past half a century. Positive progress was being made until the 1980s, since when the prospect of reaching these objectives has receded rather than increased.

Whilst it is right and commendable that a wide range of groups, individuals, and organizations have been consulted, the extent to which the feedback is based upon reliable and valid information is questionable. With the complexity of the wide-ranging demands that need to be met it is inevitable that those feeding back opinions will also have a wide range of diverse agendas.

A wealth of knowledge should have been gained from developments that took place over the past half a century but social historians (led by misguided academics), have instead focused on extreme politically correct ideologies and airbrushed common sense out of existance. Consequently, the Government are still seeking guidance from doubtful sources, and powerful organizations like Scope are pulling out of providing quality residential options. The current West Sussex care homes scandal continues to highlight the inadequacies and folly of relying on the private sector for quality service provision, whilst Scope ventures into a radical policy direction that has ominous and serious parallels with the past.  Having been put to the test similar ‘bold visions’ have manifestly failed disastrously. The current deplorable state of care in the community is a fitting testimony to the failure to learn from past mistakes.

Nothing will change dramatically until the base upon which current policy trends have been built is identified. Nothing less than a formal judicial enquiry will bring to light the nature of the cover up that has stretched out over so many painful years, and why the overview of a designated Minister for People with Learning Disabilities is vital.

Best wishes


Author: charlesahenley

Following a varied career starting with 4 years as a city office worker, 4 years service in the RAF both as ground staff ad flying duties, 16 years working for IBM Time systems division as a service engineer, a short spell as a production line supervisor, before returning as service manager to another US business machines corporation who had taken over IBM Time systems division in the UK. The nature of this work brought into contact with day centre establishments for people with learning disabilities and in 1966 when radical and progressive policies were awakening I changed career direction. In the years that followed I worked for five different authorities at centres ranging in size from 24 to 190 attendees of all levels of ability and saw remarkably progressive policies being introduced in the first 20 years for the benefit of the attendees and their carers. Sadly, as a consequence of local authorities gaining full control of policy implementation from 1990 onwards, service support went into a spiral of decline that has made debacle of the rational principles of care in the community. There is now a vital need to take responsibility for service implementation away from local authorities and the NHS and grant it to a single service agency under the direction of its own Minister. Without an urgent change of direction, the current dire situation can only worsen.

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