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HEE launches Oliver McGowan mandatory learning disability and autism training

HEE launches Oliver McGowan mandatory learning disability and autism training

The Oliver McGowan mandatory training on learning disability and autism has been launched after years of campaigning, Health Education England (HEE) has announced.

The first part of the training is now ready to be accessed, while further sessions will be available from early 2023 following a two-year trial development period involving over 8,000 health and care staff across England.

Named after Oliver McGowan, a teenager who died in 2016 after being given antipsychotic medication he was known to be intolerant to, this program hopes to ensure that care and support can be better tailored to suit people’s needs and is expected to lead to better interactions and outcomes.

Paula McGowan, Oliver’s mother who led the campaign for mandatory for health and social care staff training, said: ‘I take comfort in knowing that the death of my teenage son Oliver has resulted in a positive change as a direct consequence, something which will resonate with many and is deeply meaningful to me.

‘There is more work to be done, but the journey has now started, and I truly believe we are on the right trajectory to achieve better health and care outcomes for neurodivergent people.’

Under the Health and Care Act 2022, all CQC-registered service providers are required by law to provide their staff with appropriate training on learning disability and autism care. However, until now there has been no standardised training model.

This comes after the House of Lords passed an amendment to the Health and Care Bill in March, meaning the health secretary would be required to consult relevant persons, which she said should include people with lived experiences; regularly revisit the code of practice; and also regularly consult the House of Lords and Commons on regular reviews of the code.

The new training comes in two tiers: Tier 1 for staff who need a general awareness of the support autistic people or people with a learning disability may need, and Tier 2 for those who may need to provide care and support for autistic people or people with a learning disability. 

All staff will complete the one hour and 30-minute eLearning package, which is now available. This includes learning from autistic people and people with a learning disability, their carers, family members and subject matter experts.

The second part of the training is expected to be available from April 2023. Those completing Tier 1 will then be required to take part in a 60-minute online interactive session, while those completing Tier 2 will be required to attend a one-day face-to-face training session co-delivered by trainers who have a lived experience with learning disability and autism.

Steve Barclay, health and social care secretary, said: ‘Thanks to the campaigning and determination of Paula McGowan, from today health and social care staff will begin to have access to The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training, to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to better meet the care and support needs of people with a learning disability and autistic people.

‘What happened to Oliver was a tragedy – this training is a vital next step to address existing health inequalities for autistic people and people with a learning disability, providing them with the right care and support in health and care settings.’


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