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Local plans show real promise – Dr Julie Higgins

In the latest of a series of blogs on the work being done to transform care for people with a learning disability, NHS England’s Director of Transformation – Learning Disabilities looks at the progress being made to build the right support as well as previewing her team’s presentation at Expo 2016:

A major milestone has been reached in the delivery of the ambitions set out in Building the right support.

This details how we aim to improve services for people with a learning disability and/or autism who display behaviour that challenges, including those with a mental health condition, and give them more say in their own care and support.

All 48 Transforming Care Partnerships (TCPs) around the country have published initial summary plans.This sets out their vision for new and improved services which reflect their particular local needs and strengths, and how they will ensure more people can be discharged or avoid being admitted to inpatient care.

These plans show real progress and promise, and it’s great to see how committed local NHS and social care leaders are to working closely with those with lived experience of services and their families, as well as local providers and voluntary groups, to turn Building the right support into reality on the ground.

Whether it’s their ambitious plans for new housing options and other alternatives to inpatient care, innovative new services and forms of support for wider families, new training programmes for staff or creative ways of harnessing the passion and wisdom of local voluntary groups, TCPs are proving they are willing and able to deliver the radical reforms we all want to see.

We also set out how we are backing them to make these changes, with the first match-funded revenue grants totalling £6.5m being announced – more will follow – and a big increase in the capital available from NHS England, from the £15m announced in October, to £100m over the next five years.

NHS England are also developing packages of support for TCPs, and will also be running a series of events to share good practice. The first of these events took place on the 19 July. An ebook including all the presentations and media was produced and distributed to TCPs afterwards, and I hope to use upcoming blogs to highlight future events and resources that they produce.

It’s important to remember that these plans are ‘living’ documents – in some ways they are the starting point of local offers which will continue to be developed, to ensure they are responsive to the changing needs of local people and continue to drive up the quality of care.

I’m sure those reading this blog share my keenness that we continue to build on these foundations, as well as my excitement to see what new and innovative services local collaboration will produce over the coming months and years.

For those working in and with the NHS who want to learn more about the work we are doing at NHS England on learning disabilities, including our cross-system efforts on Transforming Care, the learning disabilities team will be presenting at this year’s NHS Innovation Expo conference.

We will use our session to remind people how important it is that people with a learning disability are meaningfully involved in their own health and care, and, for those who want it, that they are employed in rewarding jobs. We want to make sure that across the NHS we are listening to the needs of people with a learning disability – fulfilling our duty to include people, to communicate clearly, and to reduce and remove health inequalities.

Our Expo co-chairs will be our Learning Disability Network Managers and Chief Nurse Jane Cummings. They and our Learning Disability Advisors will talk about why people with a learning disability need better access to healthcare throughout the NHS, and how employment – including as a Quality Checker – is one way of ensuring that individuals and families can influence what care is delivered and how.

We also want to inspire professionals to make changes in their own organisations, particularly in terms of removing barriers to employment for people with a learning disability, and ensuring that their organisation is taking a firm approach to tackling health inequalities and improving outcomes. Network Managers and Learning Disability Advisers will talk about their work in NHS England and the impact it is having throughout the NHS, including making information more accessible, reducing health inequalities and improving physical health.

Details on this year’s NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo, including the full line up of events and speakers and how to register, are available on the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo website. Our session, ‘MY care, MY health, MY life’, is on 7 September from 13.00 – 14.30pm – we hope to see you there!


Julie HigginsDr Julie Higgins is NHS England’s Director of Transformation – Learning Disabilities, and Senior Responsible Officer for the Learning Disability Programme.

Previously she was Regional Director of Commissioning for NHS England North Region, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Commissioning Development at NHS Greater Manchester, Chief Executive of NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, Director of Public Health for Salford and Deputy Chief Executive at NHS Salford.

She previously had a research career in immunology.

Occasionally we invite guest bloggers to write posts for NHS England. Those posts are marked as authored by “Guest blogs”.

2 comments

  1. Andrew Flynn says:

    Dear Dr Higgins, we were both at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London last week as you know. I asked you if NHS England were going to correct the dreadful so called findings at the leicester event for LD Engage, and you would not commit to answering or have anyone from NHS England do so. As you were aware by their comments, many others want to know this too. So can I have your assurance this will be rectified, as there is the claim that these results were agreed by the parents, which of course is not truth.

  2. Helen Humphreys says:

    Many TCP’s are not including Mental Health Services in their local plans. Autistic people who have mental health conditions and challenging behaviour but who don’t have a learning disability are not routinely being included in engagement events. This is despite the difficulties CMHT’s have in meeting the needs of autistic people, in particular those experiencing a mental health crisis. Most CMHT’s don’t have specialist multi-disciplinary teams who can provide advice and support for people with autism and professionals involved in their care during a crisis. There is no mandate by NHS England to ensure CCG’s provide mental health and autism awareness training for their staff and training is not routinely provided. Crisis response teams, the first point of contact for someone with autism experiencing a crisis, have in many areas not received basic autism awareness training. This lack of engagement through the TCP’s, along with the current difficulties experienced by autistic people in receipt of mental health services leave this vulnerable group at an unacceptably high risk of being sectioned under the MHA and inappropriately hospitalised