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11.05.16

Patients with learning disabilities to ‘quality check’ NHS services

People with learning disabilities are being asked to assess NHS services to find how they can better meet their needs.

The NHS Quality Checkers Programme will see people with learning disabilities employed to inspect services, including GP surgeries, dental practices and mental health services, to assess how they can better meet the needs of disabled patients.

People with learning disabilities are more likely to experience poor physical health than the rest of the population, which has been linked to difficulties they experience accessing services, including filling in forms, navigating buildings and interacting with staff.

Scott Durairaj, NHS England’s experience of care lead for mental health and learning disabilities, said: “The experience that people with learning disabilities have of health services directly impacts on how likely they are to use them, and therefore how healthy they’re likely to be.

“NHS Quality Checkers – designed and led by people with lived experience – have made a real difference to local services where they have been used; now we want to take it to the next level and make a significant contribution to improving health outcomes for this group of patients across England.

“It is important to gain the backing from commissioners to implement this across the country and help to build momentum.” 

The NHS is currently looking to introduce a national framework for quality checkers, increase the number of quality checkers and provide toolkits to help checkers before encouraging greater take-up among healthcare providers of the service.

It comes as part of a greater drive to make NHS services more accessible for people with learning disabilities.

Suzie Fothergill, chair of the Association of Quality Checkers, who herself has a learning disability, said: “I am so pleased that health services across the country will be able to have NHS Quality Checkers. 

“Our work inspires health professionals to makes services better, so that people with learning disabilities can have better lives where they are healthy, happy and safe.”

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