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Group to improve care for people with learning disabilities

NHS England has called on a group of experts and advisers to develop a national guide on care for people with learning disabilities.

The group's main aim is to support people with learning disabilities through improved co-commissioning with local authorities (LAs) and third sector organisations, to provide healthcare and housing in the community.

It will include leaders from healthcare, charity and voluntary sector organisations, as well as people with learning disabilities.

Chief nursing officer for NHS England, Jane Cummings pointed out the importance of this scheme in order to relieve strain on hospitals as well provide local support for people with that is missing for people with “complex health needs”.

She said: “Too often we see people being admitted to an inpatient setting and staying for long periods of time purely because this support is lacking. This is not good for patients and through the Winterbourne Joint Improvement Programme, we are addressing this by ensuring local areas improve their discharge and care planning arrangements.

“But many areas need wider service redesign, greater integration and longer-term, sustainable solutions. The new group will drive this, drawing on essential expertise from the third sector and importantly from patients and carers. I am pleased that we have the experience and expertise of Sir Stephen Bubb to lead this process.”

Speaking at the launch of the group, Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the UK charity leaders representative body Association ACEVO was tasked with chairing the group.

He said he would “bring the expertise and strength from the third sector” to transform care for those with learning disabilities.

He said: “Co-commissioning with charities and social enterprises in this way is unprecedented in the NHS and offers new solutions to these problems. I believe that the third sector will bring the innovation required to create a sustainable 'national framework, locally delivered'.”

The vital objectives of the group are:

- To design funding models for new services

- To develop models for local commissioning of services that meet the needs of people with learning disabilities

- To ascertain possible sources of social investment

- To identify the best method if funding that meets the needs of individuals

- To allow input and guidance from partners working in this field

A final report will be published by the end of October 2014 to inform commissioning and the Everyone Counts planning guidance refresh.