Reacting to the NHS long term plan published on 7 January 2019, Lisa Hopkins, SeeAbility’s CEO said:

The plan is one of two halves: whilst the NHS has embraced the call for preventative eye care in this high risk population, there is still much work to be done on supporting people with learning disabilities and/or autism to move away from institutional settings.

We’re delighted with the pledge to invest and work with partners to ensure children with learning disabilities and autism have their eyesight needs met. This is the culmination of years of hard work and campaigns by SeeAbility and our supporters for the NHS to address this inequality of access to eye care. It’s fantastic that the NHS is listening and acting to make this happen.

The pledge comes at a time when we will be recruiting more people with learning disabilities to act as eye care champions and that means we’ll be well placed to assist in making sight tests as accessible as possible.

However, the NHS plan falters on the need for people with learning disabilities and autism to live independently with support that meets their needs.

Unfortunately there’s still not enough urgency on dealing with some of the most pressing issues facing those with learning disabilities and/or autism including reducing the use of inpatient settings and listening to people affected and their families.

As a social care provider SeeAbility has been supporting people coming from assessment and treatment units to rebuild their lives and thrive. Only government, rather than the NHS long term plan can address the many issues facing social care, including the need for local specialist provision, and we anxiously await the long overdue social care green paper.

Otherwise only more people will end up in crisis and in these ATUs unnecessarily, often at great distance from their families.