My Lords, Amendment 176 proposes that guidance should be published on how training in learning disability and autism will become mandatory for all health and social care staff. The amendment has been altered from earlier stages to address concerns raised by the Minister and officials, both in Committee and in discussions following Committee. I am grateful to the Bill team, Department of Health and Social Care officials, Mencap and noble Lords who are supporting this amendment.
The unacceptable health inequalities that many people with learning disabilities and autism face, which have been worse during the pandemic, have been reported numerous times and I am not going to repeat them here. Nor will I repeat the circumstances of Oliver McGowan’s tragic death. His parents have been powerful advocates of mandatory training and persuaded Her Majesty’s Government to commit to introducing it. Her Majesty’s Government conducted a consultation and launched an ambitious pilot of the Oliver McGowan mandatory training scheme and the evaluation is due any day.
This amendment goes a step further because it would put in statute a policy that the Government have committed to undertake. It would create a code of practice that would consult on and set out how training will be scaled up across the country. The code provides a number of advantages compared to simply amending the Health and Social Care Act 2008. It intends that co-production and co-delivery are embedded from the start and this is achieved through a requirement for the Secretary of State to consult relevant persons in preparing the code and regularly revising it in the light of outcomes. These relevant persons must include those with lived experience.
Co-production and co-delivery should be uncontroversial, but campaigners are still having to fight for this. One of the concerns put to me is whether in fact there are enough experts by experience to contribute to training that would be provided to all health and care professionals. This morning, I told my son, who has a learning disability, about tonight’s debate. He said that he wanted other people to have the same opportunity that he has had to be able to train the staff in his GP practice, but training for trainers would, of course, be needed. So many people with learning disabilities and so many autistic people are keen to have work and yet the work opportunities are not there. Here is a brilliant work opportunity.
The amendment would require the Secretary of State to lay before this House and the other place the findings of a regular review of the code, which will be needed to ensure accountability and scrutiny and help to shape any revisions or changes required in the light of improvements or otherwise of the health and care outcomes for this group of people. Accepting the amendment would be a wonderful signal to campaigners, including Oliver’s parents, Paula and Tom McGowan, that the Government’s promises will be honoured sooner rather than later. I urge the Minister to accept the amendment.