NHS England takes new steps to improve learning disability employment

As Mencap’s Learning Disability Work Experience Week kicks off, the number of NHS organisations pledging to employ more people with learning disabilities has hit 100, with NHS England calling on more trusts and hospitals to join the growing list.

The pledges have already led to ten new work experience placements which will begin this week across NHS trusts, hospitals and in the NHS England main London office, including in the Chief Executive’s and Chair’s office, with plans for more and longer term employment opportunities already in the pipeline.

Organisations across the NHS that sign up to the pledge receive a learning disabilities toolkit, developed with NHS Employers to highlight good practice and break down the barriers that both employers and potential employees may face in creating a workplace that welcomes people with learning disabilities. The work is in line with NHS England’s commitment in the Five Year Forward View to become a more progressive employer, and is aimed at breaking down barriers to will help organisations employ more people with learning disabilities.

Learning Disability Work Experience Week 2016 is run by Mencap to help provide positive and meaningful work placements for people with a learning disability. The work experience candidates beginning in the NHS this week, who were selected by working with local voluntary sector organisations, will be employed in mainly business and administration support roles for one to two weeks.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS said: “As the biggest employer in the country, the NHS is now taking concrete action to employ people with a learning disability. Hospitals and community health services are increasingly realising that if we get our recruitment and employment of people with learning disabilities right, it’s everyone who benefits. Learning Disability Work Experience Week is a timely opportunity for health organisations that have not yet started to create meaningful jobs to take the first steps, and get support to do so.”

Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer, NHS England said: “Through its work with the ‘Transforming Care Partnerships’ the NHS has made a commitment to changing services so that they make a real difference to all people with learning disabilities. Increasing the number of people that we employ with learning disabilities plays a critical role in this agenda as it will lead to a more representative workforce. This leads to better care as well as improved opportunities for people with learning disabilities.”