Over £3 billion a year is spent on health and social services for people with learning disabilities including those with Down's Syndrome. People with Down's Syndrome also use mainstream health and social services and benefit from increased expenditure on those services.
People with Down's Syndrome and their family carers will also benefit from our proposals for improving services for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers set out in the White Paper, "Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century" (Cm 5086), published in March 2001. "Valuing People" introduced an implementation support fund of £2.3 million a year from April 2001 and the Learning Disability Development Fund, comprising £23.1 million revenue and £20 million capital in 2003–04.
Families of children with Down's Syndrome have also benefited from Government investment in programmes to support disabled children:
The Quality Protects programme;
Yearly rises in the carer's grant;
Direct payments—one of the key aims is to give families greater choice and flexibility in how they receive services, including short term breaks;
As part of the development of national service framework for children, the Government are considering how best to support the particular needs of families with disabled children.
The Down's Syndrome Association has been awarded a grant of £28,000 for a two year project, "Planning for a Healthy Life".
The main agency through which the Government support medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body that receives its grant-in-aid from the Office of Science and Technology. The MRC supports basic and applied research into Down's Syndrome and spent an estimated £0.4 million in 2002–03 on Down's Syndrome research.
The Department funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the national health service. At present, we are funding a £2 million learning disability research initiative. This is addressing a range of issues, for example:
support for school leavers with learning disabilities; reproductive health care needs of women with learning disabilities; measures of core competencies and job performance in residential support staff working with people with learning disabilities.
The Department is currently meeting the service costs of a clinical trial of the effects of antioxidants and folinic acid supplementation on the mental development, growth and health of children with Down's Syndrome. The trial is a joint initiative between the Institutes of Child Health in London and Birmingham, the Down's Syndrome Association, the Down's Syndrome Research Foundation and the Research Unit of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.