The key to improving learning disability services lies with the people

Empowering people and their families has been a priority for NHS England as it looks to develop and improve its learning disability services.

Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England, said: giving people with learning disabilities their families and carers more say over their care was fundamental to the planning of future services.

She explained the priority was aimed at “giving them the means to challenge their admission or continued placement in inpatient care through an admission gateway process and Care and Treatment Reviews.”

She said the move was “aimed at reducing the number of admissions and speeding up discharges.”

The CNO was addressing NHS staff as part of an event to mark Learning Disability Week which runs to 21 June.

She told staff gathered at NHS England’s Skipton House offices in London: “The next phase of our work focuses on getting the right care in the right place. This means working with local authorities and other providers to ensure that high quality community-based alternatives to hospital are available.”

Jane highlighted the work currently underway following the announcement made by Simon Stevens at the NHS Confederation Conference that five areas in the North, Midlands and East regions would be taking forward reforms designed to ensure that the right care is available in the right place.

Following Jane’s address, staff watched a performance by the Operating Theatre group. This featured a powerful monologue from former carer ‘Louise’, in which she highlighted how professionals and institutions can often fail to see the individual behind the disability and their individual needs, personalities and preferences – something which can contribute to the poorer outcomes these patients often face.