Social Services: Learning Disability

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve care for people with learning difficulties.

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

Improving the care and support for people with a learning disability or autism, remains a government priority.

‘Building the Right Support’ is the national plan in England to build community capacity to allow people with a learning disability or autism to live and be supported well in their community. The NHS Long Term Plan commits to implementing the ‘Building the Right Support’ plan in full.

Annual health checks are available to patients on the general practitioner register who are aged 14 years and over who have a learning disability. Health checks and resulting action plans help to reduce recognised health inequalities. The number of people who had an annual health check increased by 10% in 2017/18 compared with 2016/17, to 147,180. The NHS Long Term Plan commits to improve uptake of the existing annual health checks so that at least 75% of those people with a learning disability who are eligible have a health check each year.

NHS Improvement has introduced Learning Disability Improvement Standards for NHS trusts in England to help ensure that trusts monitor and review the care they provide to people with a learning disability or autism. Inclusion of the improvement standards in the NHS Standard contract 2019/20, mandated by NHS England for use by commissioners of all healthcare services except primary care, means that all providers must have regard to the improvement standards.

NHS England and NHS Digital, in partnership with patient and carer groups and other key stakeholders, are working to develop a national ‘reasonable adjustment’ flag to indicate on electronic patient records the reasonable adjustments which services can make to help people with a learning disability access healthcare equitably.

We recently consulted on proposals to introduce mandatory learning disability and autism awareness training for all health and care staff, to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to deliver safe, compassionate and informed care. We received over 5,000 responses and will respond to the consultation in the coming months.

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