It is nearly the end of the 7 days of action against ATUs.

ATUs are Assessment and Treatment Units.

An Assessment and Treatment Unit is a type of hospital that people with learning disabilities can be kept in for a very long time.

This week we’ve been sharing what Gary Bourlet thinks about ATUs.


What is wrong with ATUs?

ATUs are Assessment & Treatment Units and there are a lot of things wrong with them. People with learning disabilities are held in these Units against their wishes. They are another type of institution. People with learning disabilities have not done anything wrong, and they have been put in these Units because they have a disability and are far away from their friends and family.

What’s a better alternative?

The alternative to ATUs is for people with learning disabilities to be part of the community and be supported through a Circles Network and to have more learning disability nurses employed in the community.

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Response to ‘Building the Right Support’

NHS England recently published their plans to change their services in England.

These plans are called ‘Building the Right Support’.

You can read an Easy Read version of the plans here.

Here’s what People First England had to say about the plans.

What we like.

The plans look great. But It feels like we have been here before with Care in the Community, Valuing People and the Winterbourne View Concordat. We have the right laws in place and we have the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. Institutions have been closing all over the world.

We like the way that people with learning disabilities and families are included in the plan. There are people and families fighting to get out of hospital now and professionals are ignoring them and think they know best.

We like the way they will employ people with learning disabilities and families as Quality Checkers.

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A Response to the National Audit Office Report

This blog post was written by Gary Bourlet and was originally published on 03.02.15.

People First England responded to the HSCIC Learning Disability Census. Here is what we said: 

1. The Winterbourne programme has not worked and we are still being treated like third class citizens

The Winterbourne programme has been going for more than 3 years. It is high profile and there is a minister responsible for it but it hasn’t changed anything much. They have said the right things but whatever is happening they are not making a difference. None of this is new. People with learning disabilities continue to be treated like 3rd class citizens, which has been going on for decades.  Until society treats us the same, nothing will change.

We think it has been a waste of taxpayers money.  It is not money well spent. There has been too much bureaucracy, too many people in offices doing too much paperwork but not enough work on the ground.

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Gary’s Friday Feedback

Yesterday I went to London with Anna. Anna is my new support worker/job coach through Access to Work.

The meeting was in the afternoon near St Pancras train station. The meeting was about the NHS constitution. There was a group of us with learning disabilities there to talk about an Easy Read version. We made some changes to it for staff and patients.

The final version will be available later in the year. We will be able to share it with you all then. Anna made some notes so I can remember all the details to share later.

It was a really good day and brilliant to be there for People First England.

Gary Bourlet

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Statement on the preventable death of Connor Sparrowhawk #JusticeforLB

On July 4th 2013 18 year old Connor (known online as LB ‘Laughing Boy’) drowned in a bath whilst in the ‘care’ of a specialist NHS Assessment and Treatment Unit (ATU) run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. Connor had Klinefelter Syndrome, which meant he had epilepsy and learning disabilities. Yesterday’s independent investigation report found that Connor’s death was preventable.

Connor had been in the ATU for 15 weeks. The average cost of a placement in an ATU is £3500 per week, or £182,000 per year. Connor’s stay cost approximately £52,000 in taxpayer’s funds. Despite the enormous sums of money involved the report reveals a catalogue of failings; there was no assessment made of Connor’s lifelong epilepsy, concerns raised by Connor’s mother were ignored, Connor’s epilepsy medication was not always available meaning his mother had to bring in supplies from home and a culture of ‘buck passing’ existed in the unit.

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People First England in Learning Disability Today

There is an article about People First England in Learning Disability Today:

PFE’s first two workers are Gary Bourlet, a self-advocate with learning disabilities who came up with the idea and has been campaigning its creation, and Kaliya Franklin, a disability campaigner and author of the Benefit Scrounging Scum blog.

Since launching, the response to PFE from the learning disability community has been “overwhelmingly positive,” according to Franklin. “We have had lots of offers of support, encouragement and interest in working with PFE,” she added.

“We are talking to all sorts of different charities, disabled people’s groups and individuals about what we all think needs to happen with PFE.”

Media training

One area that PFE thinks is particularly important is training people with learning disabilities to be speakers to the media. “We think that having people with learning disabilities speaking for themselves in the media is vital – there are physically disabled people we can think of with comedy shows, parts in soap operas or who appear to give their views on important news stories,” said Franklin.

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Just a Beginning (Plain English)

This is the People First England website.

It’s just a beginning. It will get better.

But we must start somewhere and we must start NOW.

In 2015 there will be an election. We have just over one year to talk to politicians, talk to the public, let people know what matters to people with learning disabilities.

We cannot wait to act.

Over the next few days and weeks you will find more information on this website. Ways you can get in touch and get involved.

We want to work with everyone:

1. To support you to be heard in your local community.

2. To get the real voice of people with learning disabilities heard – loud and clear – in our country.

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