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‘Right to be heard’: Response to the consultation on learning disability and autism training for health and care staff (November 2019)

‘Right to be heard’, is the Government’s response to the consultation on proposals for introducing mandatory learning disability and autism training for health and social care staff 1.  Consulting on the proposals was a commitment made in the response to the second annual report of the Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) Programme which recommended that mandatory training should be provided to all staff in conjunction with people with learning disabilities and their families.

The foreword to the Government report by Caroline Dinenage describes the Minister’s response to the petition of Paula McGowan debated in Parliament on 22 October 2018 2. Paula’s testimony moved and inspired many and gave a clear message that those caring for her son Oliver were not trained to an appropriate level. They did not appreciate the reasonable adjustments which ought to have been made for him and which would have ‘categorically’ changed his experience and could have resulted in a different outcome for Oliver.

The report confirms stark realities for those with  learning disabilities and autism. Such individuals die, on average, 20 years earlier than the general population and they continue to experience disparities in the quality of care received and the outcomes they can expect. The LeDeR programme and earlier reports such as those from Mencap reinforce the view that a revised approach is desperately needed.  Click here for more information. Research shows that 1 in 4 healthcare professionals has never been given training in relation to learning disability.

Key findings and proposals in summary

  • Overwhelming support for the principle of mandatory training
  • Widespread agreement that training should reflect the Core Capabilities Framework for Supporting People with a Learning Disability and the new Core Capabilities Framework for Supporting Autistic People
  • Support for face to face training
  • Very strong support for the idea that people with lived experience should be involved in the delivery of training and appropriately remunerated either through salary or expenses.

Providers may find it useful to review the Action list at page 11 of the report which sets out tasks and deadlines led by The Department of Health and Social Care.

Towards a common core curriculum

There is commitment to developing a ‘common core curriculum’ for learning disability and autism to ensure consistency.     

Developing the training

  • Face to face training is recognised as important and will need to be considered in development of a training package
  • Training should involve people with lived experience, who are properly remunerated for their contribution in line with their preferences and local circumstances
  • Training must be proportionate to the requirements of the role as determined by the employer.

The Government is committing £1.4m to develop and test a learning disability and autism training package which can be deployed at scale. It will draw on existing best practice, as well as academic expertise and will be an approach which can be deployed in both NHS and social care settings .

Preparatory work with Health Education England is already underway, as well as work with Skills for Care to develop trials in social care settings, with the trial planned to run from April 2020 and reporting by March 2021.

Making training mandatory

The Government proposes to amend the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 to require all NHS and social care providers who carry out regulated activities to ensure that their staff have achieved the learning outcomes relevant to their role. Current plans are that these changes would come into force in April 2021. It is not clear whether this will entail an amendment to Regulation 18, which arguably appears to be proving ineffective in this particular context, or the addition of a substantive provision.

For non-regulated staff working in the NHS, there will be consideration as to whether the provisions of the NHS Standard Contract should be strengthened, and/or whether separate guidance should be published, so that employers ensure that all staff receive learning disability and autism training appropriate to their role. Extending the scope to non-regulated staff in social care will be considered.

There will be ongoing work with the CQC to determine how regulatory approaches can best be utilised to ensure that providers require that staff receive the mandatory training.

We will of course report on any further proposals, guidance and updates as appropriate. In the interim providers should consider the extent to which it may be necessary to implement or improve training regimes as regards learning disability and autism and seek external input as appropriate.

1. Learning disability and autism training for health and social care staff

2. Minister’s response to the petition of Paula McGowan debated in Parliament 



This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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