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Autism and Learning Disability

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 11th June 2019.

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Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that health and care workers meet the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Having staff that are well trained is essential to the delivery of safe, effective and compassionate care.

In the Government’s response to the second annual report of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) programme, which we published on 12 September 2018, the Department and its partner organisations committed to a series of actions to increase the uptake of learning disability training.

One of the actions in the Government’s response was to consult on proposals for mandatory learning disability and autism training for health and care staff. The consultation has recently concluded, receiving in excess of 5,000 responses. These are being analysed and we will set out in due course our response to the consultation and proposals to introduce mandatory training.

The Department also commissioned the development of the Learning Disability Core Skills Education and Training Framework. Published in July 2016, the framework sets out the essential skills and knowledge needed for all staff working with people with a learning disability in health and social care settings and aims to support the development and delivery of appropriate and consistent cross-sector learning disabilities education and training.

Health Education England is developing free online e-learning materials to support Tier 1 learning disability training, which will be relevant for roles that require a general awareness of learning disabilities.

Health Education England has also funded the development of a new autism core capabilities framework for health and care staff, and staff in organisations with public facing responsibilities. The framework, which will span all ages, will support workforce planning and development and inform the design and delivery of education and training programmes. The framework will be published shortly.

The provision of reasonable adjustments is also critical in improving the experience of health and care for people with learning disabilities and autistic people. This will be supported through the inclusion of a reasonable adjustment ‘digital flag’ accessible in the patient record or through summary care record, to alert National Health Service staff to make the necessary service adjustments that improve health outcomes for people with a learning disability or autistic people. The Long Term Plan for the NHS commits to the introduction of the digital flag by 2023/24.

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