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Learning Disability: Health Services

Volume 481: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent steps the Government have taken to improve the quality of care provided to patients with learning disabilities; (229878)

(2) what steps the Government plan to take to train NHS medical staff to improve services for patients with learning disabilities.

“Promoting Equality” (2007), which has been placed in the Library, sets out the Department's action plan to improve access to and quality of health care for people with learning disabilities. Since then, we have taken a number of steps to improve the NHS's response for people with learning disabilities.

The NHS Operating Framework for 2008-09 (a copy of which has already been placed in the Library) challenges primary care trusts to take local action to improve the quality of national health service care and equality of access to care for people with learning disabilities. This includes developing and implementing personalised plans to address the health and care needs of people with learning disabilities. We have recently agreed new arrangements for general practitioner practices to provide annual health checks for people with learning disabilities known to local authorities. We have also launched a national awareness and education programme for the NHS about the Disability Equality Duty.

With regard to training for medical staff, the Department is currently considering how best to work with education commissioners and education providers to ensure that training for doctors and other health care professions addresses the needs of people with learning disabilities.

Our forthcoming strategy on learning disabilities will respond in full to the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry on Access to Healthcare for People with Learning Disabilities and will set out further steps to address these issues.