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17.07.20

NHS ‘Exemplars’ to help improve learning disability care

In an effort to drive forward improvements in the care provided to people with a learning disability, the NHS is calling on local NHS organisations across the country to become learning disability ‘Exemplars’ and act as trailblazers in improving health outcomes for those with learning disabilities.

The call has been issued as the fourth annual learning disability review and action report are published.

Most recent data shows more than 90% of eligible reviews had been completed, or were due to be completed shortly, with the NHS on track to complete the backlog by the end of the year.

Under the new proposals seven Exemplars will lead on new ways of working to help make improvements to health and access to care. Their focus will include increasing the uptake of annual health checks and the number of people with a learning disability who get their flu jab each year.

Important lessons learned from these Exemplars will then be rolled out as good practice across the NHS.

Leading the call for these Exemplar organisations, and in response to the mortality review, Ray James, who has served as NHS England’s National Learning Disability Director, said: “This important report reminds us why improving the health of people with a learning disability is a priority for the NHS and it is vital we use this to make real and lasting change to help close the health inequality gap seen throughout society.

“Annual health checks are crucial in identifying and tackling major health conditions and preventable causes of early death with trailblazing new exemplars working to rapidly increase uptake to help save lives.

“Over recent months NHS staff have rightly focussed on responding to the biggest global health threat in history but we have also continued to work closely with partners to monitor the impact, there has never been a more important time for people with a learning disability to get their flu jab and annual health check.”

Exemplars will:

  • Increase the uptake of the annual health checks available to people with a learning disability to at least 75%
  • Boost the number of people with learning disability getting the flu jab as respiratory conditions and pneumonia remain the biggest killers.

Alongside, work to improve uptake of health checks the NHS is taking further action to improve outcomes for people with a learning disability. These include:

  • Training 5,000 paid and unpaid carers to spot the early signs of deterioration in people with a learning disability.
  • Work is underway to understand and act on the barriers faced by BAME people with a learning disability in accessing services in partnership with the Race Equality Foundation and Learning disability England.
  • While continuing to monitor the number of deaths of people with a learning disability due to coronavirus, the NHS has also commissioned the University of Bristol to review the deaths of people with a learning disability who have died during the pandemic to ensure rapid learning can be implemented to help save lives in future.

The NHS has today written to local areas seeking expressions of interest to become exemplar sites who, if successful, will receive a share of £250,000 for their plans to improve the lives of people with a learning disability.

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