Building on our plans for people with a learning disability

In her first blog as the new Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for Learning Disability, NHS England’s Director of Transformation, Dr Julie Higgins, discusses the progress made over the last year and her expectations and priorities for the year ahead:

It’s a real honour and a massive challenge to take on the role of SRO for NHS England’s Learning Disability programme.

I’ll be overseeing a team and a programme which has achieved a great deal already, especially in the last year since the publication of Transforming Care for People with a learning disability – Next Steps.

The main development has obviously been the publication of Building the Right Support, our joint plan with local government leaders, backed by national bodies such as the Care Quality Commission and Health Education England, to help people to lead more independent lives and have greater say and choice about the support they receive.

The over-arching message from Building the Right Support was that hospitals should never be considered homes for people with a learning disability. To achieve this we are working together to deliver new, better care options in the community, significantly reducing the need for lengthy stays in specialist hospitals – under our plan we want to see up to half of beds close within three years.

Read Dr Julie Higgins’s blog in full on our learning disabilities section.

Dr Julie Higgins

Julie has held a number of NHS positions including Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Public Health in PCTs; she led the development of CCGs in Greater Manchester. She has been the Regional Director of Commissioning in NHS England as well as and has been SRO for large scale hospital reconfigurations following hospital merger to improve child and maternity services. Julie was Vice Chair of the Greater Manchester Public Health Network which carried out a number of ground breaking public health initiatives including the development of the Greater Manchester Health Commission.

Before joining the NHS, Julie worked at London University in the field of immunology after gaining her PhD. Julie is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health. She has a strong commitment to reducing health inequalities and alongside her working life has undertaken voluntary work with Youth Offending Teams.

In her Current role as Director of Transformation/SRO Learning Disabilities she is leading on:- Reducing health inequalities and improving health outcomes for people with Learning Disabilities; Improving services and reducing reliance on hospital beds, for people with learning disabilities and/or autism with mental health issues and/or behaviours that challenge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Learning disability Manchester says:

    Learning disability is one of the most common diseases found in children. However this disability does not means that the child lacks intellect. He might be smart, but there are chances that he is going through certain learning difficulties. For children who are suffering from learning disabilities, they might be suffering from brain impairment, which is suffering from issues like receiving, analyzing and also processing information.

    Role of Parents

    Parents, whose children are suffering from learning disorder, should ensure to identify problems of their child and look for ways of identifying them. They can even approach Learning disability Manchester who have professionals appointed on the job and are competent of providing solutions for early cure of children. Regular treatment of disabilities can really help child recover from difficult situations and improve their aspects of learning and living life.

  2. Alex says:

    Hi Julie,

    Great plan! It should be supported to visualized it success.

    • Simon Lee Mountford says:

      I am a disabled person myself who has worked in the NHS in the past but due to my local hospital were I was employed, I was treated very different for having a disability called MCI but unfortunately the staffs at Mid Staffs General Hospital caused me nothing but pain. All I have ever wanted is to be treated the same or work of an even playing field. I used to be a porter and a healthcare support worker within the Theatre Department, I loved my job but with all the problems at the trust that I did not know about. And to even get some support from the union was nearly impossible because they treated me more like a freak in the department, and was denied further training opportunities to help me gain further educational opportunities because my manager at the time said they could not afford to get extra education tutors. I never asked for any of these extra support, So I was denied the same opportunities that all others took for granted. But I would love to go back to deliver disability awareness training and that this is also done on an annual basis. So that there is this negative attitude that has come about since the AUSTERITY Programme came into being.

  3. simon cramp says:

    but what have you done since the nhs england announce the plan nearly 3 months ago what are the early indicatiors that this will work when other plans have failed

    simon cramp who blog comment and is someone with a learning disability sick of empty promised for his fellow citzens

    • NHS England says:

      Hi Simon
      Thank you for your Comment.

      As Building the right support set out, and Julie’s full blog goes into more detail on, the local Transforming Care Partnerships are currently in the advanced stages of developing their local plans for implementation to begin in April.

      Kind regards
      NHS England