The NHS has today called on local NHS organisations across the country to become learning disability ‘Exemplars’ to help drive forward improvements in care putting the health of people with a learning disability firmly on the agenda.
The call comes as the fourth annual learning disability review and action report are published. Most recent data shows that more than 90% of eligible reviews had been completed, or due to be completed shortly, with the NHS on track to complete the backlog by the end of the year.
Seven Exemplars will trailblaze new ways of working to help make improvements to health and access to care – key priorities for the NHS. 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 from trailblazers will be rolled out as good practice across the NHS.
A campaign encouraging people with a learning disability to get an annual health check with the ambition to ensure that three quarters of people take up the offer will also be launched later this year.
Leading the call for ‘exemplars’ and in response to the mortality review, Ray James, 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.”
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.