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Publication, Part of

Learning Disability Census Report - England, 30th of September 2015

Publication Date:
Date Range:
30 Sep 2013 to 30 Sep 2015


This report presents initial findings from the 2015 Learning Disability Census. Data were collected via the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) on behalf of the Department of Health, the Care Quality Commission, Public Health England and NHS England.

The Learning Disability Census provides an individual record-level snapshot of inpatients with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder and/or behaviour that challenges, and the services they receive, for patients who were inpatients in NHS and independent sector services at midnight on 30 September 2015.

This initial release reports at England level on key findings of the 2015 Learning Disability Census.  Where possible, comparisons are made within this report between 2014 and 2013 data.

The principal aim of the Learning Disability Census is to deliver action 17 in 'Transforming Care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital  - "an audit of current services for people with challenging behaviour to take a snapshot of provision, numbers of out of area placements and lengths of stay".


Responses from 89 provider organisations were received on behalf of 3,000 patients who met the inclusion criteria for the 2015 Learning Disability Census. This figure is broadly in line with the previous two census collections; there were 3,250 inpatients on census day 2013 and 3,230 on census day 2014.

Key facts for 2015 show that on the 30 September 2015 1 :

Reason for being in inpatient care

For 2,340 patients (78 per cent ), the main treatment reason for being in inpatient care on census day was either due to a continuing behavioural treatment programme (690 patients, 23 per cent ), the continuing need for inpatient care of mental illness (1,155 patients, 39 per cent ), or where current behaviour has been assessed as being too high risk for the Ministry of Justice to agree any reduction in security level (495 patients, 17 per cent ).

Experience of care

On census day in 2015, 2,155 patients (72 per cent ) had received antipsychotic medication either regularly or as needed in the 28 days prior to the census collection, compared to 2,345 patients (73 per cent ) in 2014.

In 2015, 1,670 patients (56 per cent ) had one or more incidents reported in the three months prior to census day, compared to 1,780 (55 per cent ) in 2014. Incidents comprise: self-harm, accidents, physical assault, restraint or seclusion.

Distance from home and length of stay

Average 2 length of stay and distance from home remained stable between the three censuses.  Average  length of stay on census day 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively was of 542 days, 547 days and 554 days.  The median distance from home on census day 2013, 2014 and 2015 was 34.5km, 34.4km and 38.6km respectively.

Patients receiving care at the time of all three census collections

Of the 3,000 people receiving inpatient care on census day 2015; 1,450 patients (48 per cent ) were receiving care at the time of all 3 censuses; approximately 640 patients (21 per cent ) appeared in 2013 or 2014 census collections but not all 3 censuses; and 915 patients (30 per cent ) were receiving care at the time of the 2015 census only.

Comparison with Assuring Transformation3 

Linking the two collections at patient level, 2,140 patients were common to both collections; 855 patients who appeared in the Learning Disability Census did not appear in the Assuring Transformation collection; while 480 patients from the Assuring Transformation collection did not appear in the Learning Disability Census. Adding the unreported patients as identified by Assuring Transformation to the 2015 headcount puts the figure who were inpatient on census day 2015 closer to 3,480.


1  Due to rounding, figures may not add up 

2  Median averages are shown here 

3  This uses the data for September as published in the October report 


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Last edited: 6 October 2021 12:22 pm