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Learning Disability and Autism

Volume 735: debated on Tuesday 27 June 2023

Today I am delighted to announce the launch of the consultation on the draft Oliver McGowan code of practice (the code) on statutory learning disability and autism training. The launch of this consultation represents a significant moment in the journey towards improved care and treatment of people with a learning disability and autistic people. I welcome anyone with an interest to complete the consultation and share their views on the draft code. An easy read version of the draft code and consultation will be made available as soon as they are ready.

The purpose of the code is to ensure that service providers registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have the necessary guidance to meet the new legal requirement introduced in the Health and Care Act 2022. The effect of the new requirement is that, from 1 July 2022, CQC-registered providers are required to ensure their staff receive training on learning disability and autism, appropriate to their role. To aid those who need to comply with the new training requirement the Secretary of State is obliged by the 2022 Act to issue a code of practice setting out what we consider is required in order for them to comply. Therefore, this draft code sets out the standards this training must meet to comply with the legislation and guidance on what I believe providers need to do to meet those standards.

As set out in the draft code, the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism is the Government’s preferred and recommended package to support CQC-registered providers to meet the new requirement introduced by the Health and Care Act 2022. The training is named after Oliver McGowan, a young autistic teenager with a mild learning disability, who sadly died after having a severe reaction to medication given to him against his and his family’s strong wishes. Oliver’s parents, Paula and Tom McGowan, have campaigned for better training for health and care staff to improve understanding of the needs of people with a learning disability or autistic people. The training was trialled in England during 2021 with over 8,000 people and is helping to ensure that staff are equipped with the right skills to care for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

In my role as Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, I have heard experiences of the poor care and treatment received by people with a learning disability and autistic people, which has highlighted the importance of introducing this legal requirement and the development and publication of the code.

I look forward to receiving responses to this consultation to help us to develop a code that supports health and care staff to provide high-quality care for people with a learning disability and autistic people which complies with the legislative requirements. Too often people with a learning disability and autistic people experience poorer health outcomes and higher mortality than the general population. We are confident that these disparities can be reduced when health and care staff are equipped with the right skills and knowledge. The draft code therefore represents a crucial step in the right direction.

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