New team to give voice to learning disability community

A new two person team is to be appointed to help people with learning disabilities co-design and transform services as part of NHS England’s Transforming Care programme.

Jane Cummings, Chief Nurse at NHS England, announced at last week’s Board Meeting that someone with a learning disability will be recruited in a full time role alongside another full time member of staff to work in a co-worker model and inform and engage with people with learning difficulties.

The two Learning Disability Network Officers will be appointed and work together to develop a strong and influential network. They will ensure people with a learning disability have a strong voice, can influence the work of the organisation and play a powerful role in shaping services.

Mrs Cummings said: “We want to deliver the ambition to move as many people as possible into community settings with the support they need. We have to systematically remove the blocks which are stopping that from happening.

“We want to enable people with learning disabilities to have the same rights as everyone else. Many want to work and have the chance to live a normal life – not be put in an inpatient setting. It’s not what they want and it’s not what they deserve.”

It is expected both posts will be advertised before Christmas to begin early in the New Year.

NHS England is committed to developing an application process and work environment that is accessible, supportive and inclusive for all its employees and is working with partners with relevant expertise to support this process.

The appointments come as part of a larger piece of work around Transforming Care for people with a learning disability. Part of the programme is to move any patients with a learning disability who are in an inpatient setting inappropriately back into the community.

Since the last Board meeting NHS England has started to track those patients who were in hospital in April this year and identify those who could be discharged if appropriate services are provided in different settings.


  1. Leslie Macdonald says:

    Sounds like the government’s usual tokenistic effort for people with disabilities. All the money they must be saving by cutting benefits to disabled people should afford more than two posts surely. Also will someone tell the author of this news article the difference between learning disabilities and learning difficulties?

    And there was me labouring under the foolish idea that the LD voluntary sector was the voice of learning disability!

  2. P. Haswell says:

    Two people – that’s the sort of committee I like! Their feet are not going to touch the ground – are they covering the whole country? Where will they be based? I can see a huge amount of time spent travelling to meetings to set up this ‘strong and influential network’. I sincerely hope it has been recognised that these two people will need strong administrative/clerical support. All that being said, it’s a very positive move, providing they are given the support they need and deserve. Watch this space…

  3. liz jones says:

    Jane Cummings, Chief Nurse at NHS England why would she employ a person with Learning disabilities to inform people with Learning difficulties? Is she ware there is a huge difference? Where is the family carer involvement ?

    • N Kaur says:

      Family carers can do a lot to improve services and we should ask ourselves if it is fair to put such huge pressure on a person with learning disabilities, hugely valuable though they are as a witness to comment on developments, and to be a voice, and they should be visible in this project.
      But isn’t it family carers that pick up the pieces of the person they care for when services don’t deliver the treatment they said they would, and don’t they write care plans and hope people will follow them, and share person-centred dreams and thoughts when the person cannot speak.
      Families are themselves not whole until they, alongside paid carers, deliver care for their person with learning disabilities. They accept their person as they are, more than anyone else really can. Families can guide us.

  4. Adam Butcher says:

    Sounds good so we have a voice with people with a learning disability can make sure the care and support is in place