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Down's Syndrome

Department of Health written question – answered on 22nd December 2015.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps will be taken to improve attitudes of hospital staff in NHS trusts towards patients with Down’s syndrome.

Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps will be taken to ensure that individuals with learning disabilities have access to good quality healthcare, in the light of reports by Mencap that there are 1,200 avoidable deaths of people with a learning disability in the NHS annually.

Photo of Lord Prior of Brampton Lord Prior of Brampton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health

The Government’s response to the recommendations in the report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry included a wide range of measures aimed at improving safety and quality as well as ensuring compassionate care for everyone who uses National Health Service services, including people with disabilities.

NHS organisations should comply with existing legislation, frameworks and guidance aimed at ensuring they identify and meet the needs of people with learning disabilities in commissioning and delivering safe, high quality care to all individuals, groups and communities of their populations.

From June 2016, the Department will publish independently assured, ratings of the quality of healthcare offered to people with learning disabilities in all clinical commissioning group areas, to highlight variations and to allow rapid action to be taken when improvement is needed.

NHS England continues to work to improve access to good quality healthcare for people with learning disabilities, including:

‒ improving identification of people with learning disabilities in health care records to ensure that reasonable adjustments can be made, communication needs addressed and crisis plans developed;

‒ encouraging the use of health passports when people access services so that professionals and staff are aware of their needs;

‒ improving identification on cancer screening information systems;

‒ ensuring that people with learning disabilities are identified as a priority group to receive flu vaccinations;

‒ improving access to NHS 111, Accident and Emergency and other services; and

‒ increasing the number of people who are eligible getting an annual learning disability health check from their general practitioner.

NHS England has also commissioned a learning disabilities Premature Mortality Review programme led by the University of Bristol from June 2015 to review and learn from deaths of people with a learning disability with the aim of improving services, care and support nationally.

These initiatives will help to raise awareness and to tackle the inequalities experienced by those with learning disability, including where associated with Down’s syndrome.

In addition, the Care Certificate, which was introduced in April 2015, is helping NHS service providers to ensure that their new healthcare assistants have the right fundamental skills and knowledge, including in communication and awareness of learning disability.

Health Education England will work with healthcare providers to ensure that the continuing personal and professional development of staff continues beyond the end of formal training to enable staff to deliver safe and high quality healthcare and public health services both now and in the future.

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