More than two thirds of inpatients with learning disabilities in specialist units are given anti-psychotic medication, a census commissioned in response to the Winterbourne View Hospital scandal has shown.
The census also found that more than half (56.6 per cent) of the patients had experienced an “incident” during the three months preceding the census date such as self-harm, an accident, physical assault on the patient, hands-on restraint or seclusion.
The findings are the result of further analysis of the 2013 Learning Disability Census commissioned in response to events at Winterbourne View Hospital and published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
They are based on survey responses received from 104 (58 NHS and 46 private) provider organisations in England on behalf of 3,250 service users who were polled in September last year.
The patient group includes people with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder and/or behaviour that challenge.
The census shows that 68.3 per cent (2,220) of the inpatients had been given anti-psychotic medication in the 28 days leading up to census day.
Of these, 93 per cent (2,064) had been given the medication on a regular basis.
Proportionally, more people belonging to black and minority ethnic groups had been given these drugs on a regular basis than in white ethnic groups - 72.6 per cent (284 out of 391) compared with 61.8 per cent (1,682 out of 2,720).
Of the 56.6 per cent (1,841) of patients who had experienced an “incident”, more women experienced every type of incident than men.
The HSCIC also said there appears to be an association between hands-on restraint and the administration of anti-psychotic medication – 40 per cent (889) of the 2,220 given these drugs had experienced at least one instance of hands-on restraint compared to 21.5 per cent (221) of the 1,030 who were not given any of this medication.
Some 78 per cent (2,536) of service users were subject to the Mental Health Act 1983 on census day, compared with 22 per cent (714) who were classified as informal patients.
Of those subject to the Act, 99.5 per cent (2,524) were subject to “longer term hospital orders” - a duration greater than 72 hours.
Some 20% (112) of service users staying in wards more than 100km from home were in high cost placements (over £4,500 per week), while 34% (208) staying within 10km from home were in placements costing under £2,500 per week.
Data was collected via the HSCIC on behalf of the Department of Health, the Care Quality Commission, Public Health England and NHS England.
The background to the census includes the BBC Panorama programme in May 2011 which reported the mistreatment and assault of adults with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorder at Winterbourne View Hospital, the HSCIC said.
Kingsley Manning, chair of the HSCIC, said: “The Learning Disabilities Census, and this further analysis, is an important contribution to understanding how episodes such as those seen at Winterbourne View Hospital can be avoided in the future.
“This further analysis of the census data will aid understanding of the experience of inpatients with learning disabilities nationally, and is an important benchmark.
“It is crucial that service providers have accurate data about complex issues such as these, to help them to develop their understanding and improve their services for patients. Providing this sort of data is a key role for the HSCIC.”
The HSCIC said 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.