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.