Today, local MP and Health & Care Minister Caroline Dinenage, has announced that all NHS staff and social care workers will receive mandatory autism and learning disability training.
The changes are being introduced after extensive public consultation as a response to the 2018 LEDER Report into the deaths of people with a learning disability, and the campaign led by Paula McGowan, the mother of Oliver McGowan, a young autistic man.
18 year old Oliver passed away in 2016 after being given anti-psychotic medication despite his intolerance. Since then, his parents have been campaigning tirelessly for better training for health and care staff in autism and learning disabilities.
Mandatory training is just part of the wider measures being introduced, including that every inpatient with a learning disability or autism in an in-patient mental health hospital setting will have their case review over the next 12 months. The government has also committed to ensuing that each patient will get a date of discharge or an explanation of why it is not appropriate. For those in long-term segregation, Baroness Sheila Hollins who will chair an independent panel, this will review cases to improve care and support patients swift discharge into the community if appropriate.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“For those living with learning disabilities and autistic people, the current system can leave them in isolation for long periods of time, with no prospect of release into the community.
“I am determined to put this right and today we are committing to reviewing the care of every patient with learning disability and autism over the next 12 months – alongside a clear plan to get them discharged back into their homes and communities. I have also asked for advice on separating out the law regarding those with learning disabilities and autism from the law regarding mental health.
“This will start with those in the most restrictive settings. I am delighted Baroness Hollins has agreed to chair our new independent panel to make sure that they are supported to discharge as quickly as possible. Baroness Hollins brings a wealth of experience and will provide the right level of scrutiny and challenge to ensure that everything possible is done to improve care on the ground.”
Baroness Sheila Hollins said:
“I don’t think it can ever be right to segregate someone as a form of care, and even more so when there is no planned end date.
“The oversight panel will actively review progress of an action learning project designed to identify existing barriers, and implement solutions that will transform people’s lives. Our focus will be on each person’s humanity, and entitlement to live an ordinary and safe life in a place where their own concerns and needs will be understood and met by supporters who treat them with respect and have the right skills and supervision.”
Minister for Care and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said:
“It is unacceptable that the lives of autistic people or those with a learning disability could be cut short because of barriers in accessing healthcare that most of us take for granted.
“I want to ensure this training provides NHS staff and social care workers with the confidence and skills to understand the needs of those with learning disabilities and autistic people.
“Paula McGowan has been instrumental in campaigning on this issue, giving a voice to many people who aren’t always able to speak up for themselves. I hope this training and the wider measures announced today will go far in ensuring all autistic people and those with a learning disability are listened to and receive the high-quality care they deserve.”