• Paul Lelliott says mental health is no longer a “Cinderella service”
  • But Dr Lelliott says there is a problem with the profile of learning disability and autism services 
  • Also revealed there will be a further consultation on “campus style” units

Mental health is no longer the NHS’ “Cinderella”, but there are still concerns about the profile of learning disability and autism services, a Care Quality Commission senior chief has said. 

In an interview with HSJ, Paul Lelliott said: “I don’t think it [mental health] is the Cinderella service any more… I think [on] the issue of parity of esteem we haven’t quite got there yet, so I don’t think people working in mental health can quite relax yet.

“But learning disability, I think that is different. I think there is a problem with the profile that LD services have and there is even more of a problem with the experiences of people with autism.

“Certainly there is a public concern about the care of people with autism within specialist inpatient services. But the other aspect is the experience of people with autism who access mainstream services. If you go to your GP or if you go to your emergency department or if you use a mental health service; do the staff you encounter in these services understand and recognise people with autism? Do they recognise what adjustments need to be made? I think it is an issue.”

Meanwhile, Dr Lelliott also revealed the regulator is set to publish a further consultation on changes to its requirements around “campus style” units.

In effect, current CQC guidance under its “registering the right support” initiative restricts providers from using or opening these large facilities for LD or autism services. This has been met with controversy, with some private providers seeking legal action against the regulator.

Although he could not give any further details on the consultation, Dr Lelliott said: “In light of our experiences in applying the registering [of] the right support development in the transforming care programme, we want to ensure the guidance is as up to date as it should be.”

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