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NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has today (17 June) thrown down a challenge to the health service to open up suitable job opportunities to people with learning disabilities.
To mark Learning Disability Week, NHS Employers and NHS England are today launching a new national network providing advice, ideas and impetus to all NHS organisations – from local hospital trusts to national bodies – to remove barriers and take steps to accelerate employment of people with learning disabilities in the NHS.
Mr Stevens said: “The NHS family is the biggest employer in the country, and one of the largest in the world. Listening to what people with learning disabilities say about how they want to lead their own lives, now we want to expand the number of NHS employers who successfully harness the talents, expertise and experience of people with learning disabilities.”
Over the next few months, NHS England and NHS Employers will develop practical support and a network of NHS organisations committed to making progress across the NHS to increase employment of people with learning disabilities.
Paul Wallace, director of Employment Relations & Reward at the NHS Employers organisation, said: “This is a fantastic initiative which can help people have the careers they deserve. Our NHS Employers Disability Summit in May continued to develop this agenda and we need to keep the conversation going. While many organisations have made really good progress, there is more that can be achieved across the NHS as a whole. By teaming up with NHS England to push this agenda further I am confident that we can achieve real wins for NHS organisations, for patients and for people with learning disabilities.”
Lela Kogbara, Director of the newly-established Learning Disabilities Employment Programme at NHS England said: “This isn’t just the right thing for people with learning disabilities; it’s right for the NHS, helping us to deliver better care for everyone.”
The new programme comes during Learning Disability Week 2015 (15-19 June) and is the next step in a commitment made in the NHS Five Year Forward View to make NHS workforces more representative of the local communities they serve.
The NHS continues to improve its support for staff with disabilities, including learning disabilities, and this new programme is encouraging employers to be creative in offering supported job opportunities to people with learning disabilities, including as ‘experts by experience’ who can help drive change in culture and services.
The two national organisations are also writing to the Chief Executives and HR Directors across the NHS to highlight, and encourage their support for, the initiative.