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Learning Disability: Health Services

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what consideration his Department has given to increasing the number of (a) health facilitators and (b) learning disability liaison nurses in the NHS; and if he will make a statement; (204675)

(2) which NHS trusts have a disability equality scheme in place; and how many such schemes include provision to meet the needs of patients with learning disabilities;

(3) how many people with a learning disability had a health action plan in place at the latest date for which figures are available;

(4) how many (a) learning disability liaison nurses and (b) health facilitators there are in the national health service; and how many of each are on (i) permanent and (ii) fixed-term contracts;

(5) what plans he has to reduce the health inequalities experienced by people with a learning disability; and if he will make a statement.

We will be looking at these and other roles on primary care and specialist services as part of our consideration of the consultation responses to “Valuing People Now”. The deadline for responses to this consultation was 28 March 2008 and the responses are currently being analysed. We will publish a revised strategy which takes account of the consultation responses in the early autumn.

The Department's good practice guidance on “Commissioning specialist adult learning disability services”, published in October 2007, highlights the importance of the health facilitation role working with primary care teams, community health professionals and staff involved in delivering secondary health care.

The information requested on how many learning disability liaison nurses and health facilitators there are in the national health service, and how many of each are on permanent and fixed-term contracts is not held centrally. We do notcollect data on national health service staff contracts.

Information on the numbers of learning disability liaison nurses and health facilitators: neither group is separately identified in the NHS workforce census. However, the number of specialist learning disability nurses is collected in the census and this information is shown in the following table.

The information on how many NHS trusts have a disability equality scheme is not collected centrally. All NHS trusts are required under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act to publish disability equality schemes that set out, among other things, how they intend to meet their duties towards disability equality. To assist them in this the Department published best practice guidance—“Creating a disability equality scheme a practical guide for the NHS”—in October 2006. Further guidance, specific to learning disabilities, is to be published shortly.

The information requested on how many people with a learning disability had a health action plan in place is not held centrally.

The Department recognises that more needs to be done to improve access to NHS services for people with learning disabilities. That is why health care is one of the key priorities within the “Valuing People Now” consultation document.

The Department has committed to a wide-ranging programme of action, set out in the document “Promoting Equality” that was published in March 2007 (and copies of which are available in the Library) to respond to recommendations made by the Disability Rights Commission. This action includes:

a programme of work to support wider implementation of annual health checks for people with learning disabilities;

supporting primary care trusts (PCTs) (as commissioners of health services) in understanding and acting on the needs of people with learning disabilities and involving them in commissioning and reviewing services, in particular through sponsoring PCT commissioning ‘exemplar sites’;

overseeing work with professional, regulatory and educational bodies to address understanding of learning disability in education and training for general practitioners, nurses and other health staff;

improving the way that the Department of Health and the NHS evaluate key health initiatives for their impact on people with learning disabilities; and

improving collection and management of information about health needs, services and health outcomes for people with learning disabilities and developing a more coordinated approach to performance monitoring.

The Department published commissioning guidance for specialist learning disability health services—“Commissioning specialist adult learning disability health services—Good practice guidance 31 October 2007—and will shortly publish further guidance on meeting the disability equality duty in relation to people with learning disabilities. The Department is also taking forward a Human Rights in Health Care Programme, helping the NHS to recognise and respect the fundamental human rights of all patients.

NHS hospital and community health services: Qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff, England as at September 2007

Headcount

Community and learning disabilities

Other learning disabilities

All qualified nursing

3,512

4,106

Nurse consultant

24

10

Modern matron

18

19

Community matron

1

1

Manager

110

229

Registered nurse—children

1

1

Registered midwife

1

1

Health visitor

1

1

District nurse

1

1

School nurse

1

1

Other 1st level2

3,235

3,621

Other 2nd level2

125

227

1 Not applicable. 2 Other 1st and 2nd level include staff coded as community psychiatric nurses (CPN) and community learning disabilities nurses (CLDN) with a specific recordable community qualification.

Full-time equivalent

Community and learning disabilities

Other learning disabilities

All qualified nursing

2,986

3,607

Nurse consultant

23

10

Modern matron

18

19

Community matron

1

1

Manager

105

220

Registered nurse—children

1

1

Registered midwife

1

1

Health visitor

1

1

District nurse

1

1

School nurse

1

1

Other 1st level2

2,748

3,151

Other 2nd level2

92

207

1 Not applicable. 2 Other 1st and 2nd level include staff coded as CPN and CLDN with a specific recordable community qualification. Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest whole number. Source: The Information Centre for health and social care 2007 Non-Medical Workforce Census.