Today, the Government has published its response to the latest report of the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review. This report sets out a number of recommendations about how to make sure that the NHS understands learning disability better and can support people’s health needs. In particular, it commits to improving staff training and says the Government will work on plans to make learning disability training mandatory.

Research shows that people with a learning disability, many of whom are also on the autism spectrum, struggle to get the care they need and this has tragically led to many people dying. This happens because of a lack of understanding and changes to communication and support.

We welcome this report. This is an opportunity to make sure, as the NHS plans its future priorities, that understanding of learning disability and also autism is at the heart of staff training.

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, says, “In far too many cases, we  have seen the tragic results of the NHS' failure to understand people with a learning disability - approximately a third of whom are also autistic. Today’s announcement is a welcome step towards making sure that people are not put at unnecessary risk when they need help from the NHS.

“The Government has accepted that all health and care staff should have training to help them support people with a learning disability. Similar requirements for autistic people also exist under the Autism Act. But many autistic people tell us that they don’t feel that staff have understood the difficulties they face following complicated health information, communicating their symptoms or with the sounds and smells of hospitals.

"Now the NHS has identified both autism and learning disability as priorities for their new ten year plan to improve the health service, this is an opportunity to finally create a programme that makes sure all staff have the knowledge they need to provide the best possible care.

“Understanding autism and learning disability is the foundation of good health care and could make a difference to hundreds of thousands of lives. The National Autistic Society believes now is the time for Government and NHS England to make a change for the 600,000 autistic people in England and their families.”

There is still time to give your opinion on the NHS England Long Term Plan, click here