House of Commons Library

Learning Disability

Published Tuesday, September 18, 2018

House of Commons Library briefing on policies and services for people with a learning disability in England.

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This briefing provides an overview of policies and services for people with a learning disability in England.

The Government and NHS England have committed to reducing health inequalities for people with learning disabilities and have established national programmes to improve treatment and outcomes. The Government’s Mandate to the NHS 2018-19 set an objective for the NHS to close the health gap between people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and autism and the population as a whole.

In June 2015, NHS England commissioned the National Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme led by the University of Bristol, to review and learn from deaths of people with a learning disability with the aim of improving services, care and support nationally. The project is investigating the causes of premature mortality for people with a learning disability and has produced recommendations to reduce this inequality. The second annual report from the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review was published in May 2018. The Government provided its response in September 2018, accepting the review’s recommendations and committing to several actions, including a public consultation on mandatory learning disability training for relevant staff by March 2019.

The Government and NHS England have also committed to reducing the number of people with a learning disability who are placed in inpatient services. NHS England’s Transforming Care programme intends to improve the quality of life of those with learning disabilities by substantially reducing the number of people placed in hospital, reducing the length of time those admitted spend there, and enhancing the quality of both hospital and community settings.

In 2015, NHS England, in partnership with local government leaders, published a national action plan to develop community services and close inpatient facilities for people with a learning disability and/or autism. The Building the Right Support[1] plan aims to shift money from inpatient services to the community and reduce the use of inpatient beds by 35% - 50%. This target reduction is also set out in the Government’s Mandate to the NHS 2018-19, to be achieved by March 2019

Since June 2016, the Department of Health & Social Care has published independently assured, ratings of the quality of healthcare offered to people with learning disabilities in all CCG areas, to highlight variations and to allow rapid action to be taken when improvement is needed.

The briefing also looks at recent policy changes in the areas of employment, welfare, education and criminal justice.


[1]     NHS England, Building the right support, October 2015

Commons Briefing papers SN07058

Authors: Elizabeth Parkin; Alex Bate; Steven Kennedy; Andy Powell; Hannah Cromarty; Susan Hubble; Robert Long

Topics: Community care, Disability discrimination, Health services, Mental health, Sickness, disability and carers' benefits, Special educational needs

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