Getting It Right: NHS pledges to work for better care

Two major NHS organisations in Norfolk have pledged themselves to a new charter to improve healthcare for people with learning disabilities and learning difficulties.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) and NHS Norfolk have both signed up to “Getting It Right”, drawn up by Mencap which aims to ensure the patients it represents get the healthcare they have a right to – on terms they understand and are comfortable with.

Carol Edwards, Deputy Director of Nursing at NNUH said: “We are committed to providing the best possible care for people with a learning disability. A great amount of work has been undertaken over the last six years, including working with advocacy group where people themselves have told us what they want from our service, we will to continue to work with people and improve our services.”

Stephen McCormack, NHS Norfolk's Mental Health Commissioning Manager has driven through a range of improvements at NHS Norfolk which were recently commended by the Strategic Health Authority – alongside the work which he has undertaken in paertnership with other stakeholder through Norfolk LD Partnership Board.

Stephen said: “We have done much good work within NHS Norfolk and with our partners but we know there is more work we can do to better support patients with learning difficulties. This was recognised at the most recent NHS Norfolk Board meeting.

“By signing up to Getting It Right we are therefore making a further public commitment to continue this work throughout NHS Norfolk.”

Kate Jones, Community Development Officer for MENCAP in Norfolk said: “Our charter sets out a standard of practice and will make health trusts accountable to people with a learning disability, their families and carers. We welcome the commitment of NHS Norfolk and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to constantly strive to uphold these standards and help end indifference in the NHS.”

“Getting It Right” is Mencap’s campaign for equal healthcare for all children and adults with a learning disability.

People with a learning disability generally have poorer health, roughly a third have epilepsy and many are at a higher risk of illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. However MENCAP wants to work with NHS Trusts to ensure people with a learning disability are not discriminated against because of their disability and to ensure they get the treatment they need.

The Charter states that:
• All people with a learning disability have an equal right to healthcare.
• All healthcare professionals have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to the treatment they provide to people with a learning disability.
• All healthcare professionals should provide a high standard of care and treatment and value the lives of people with a learning disability.

Signatories pledge to:
• See the person, not the disability
• Make sure that hospital passports are available and used
• Make sure staff understand and apply the principles of mental capacity laws
• Appoint a learning disability liaison nurse in hospital
• Make sure every eligible person with a learning disability can have an annual health check
• Provide ongoing learning disability awareness training for all staff
• Listen to, respect and involve families and carers
• Provide practical support and information to families and carers
• Provide information that is accessible for people with a learning disability
• Display the Getting It Right principles for everyone to see.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust has made huge strides to assist people with learning disabilities and difficulties.

It has appointed a Learning Difficulty Liaison nurse and about 1,000 staff at have received training to help them understand the needs of people who have learning difficulties when they come in for treatment.

Each ward has an ‘LD Champion’ to liaise with patients and their family or carer, to ensure their needs are met. The hospital has also produced a short web film with ‘ten top tips’ for coming into hospital – produced and filmed with the input of people with learning difficulties.

The NNUH was the first hospital in the country to pilot Project SEARCH in partnership with Adult Community Services. This is an initiative which gives young people with a learning disability and also those with an autistic spectrum disorder a chance to try real jobs in the hospital and apply for them at the end of their training.

NHS Norfolk has helped ensure 98% of people on local LD registers are registered with a GP and more than 80% of GPs in its area offer enhanced services for LD patients. It has put in place systems to enable people on GP registers to be better identified and to ensure they have the offer of annual health checks and equal access to screening and tests. It has also ensured the needs of people with a learning disability are explicit and included when commissioning healthcare across the whole Norfolk health system.


Mencap supports the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK and their families and carers. Mencap fights to change laws, improve services and increase access to education, employment and leisure facilities, supporting thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they choose.

It is also the largest service provider of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

See for more information.

A learning disability is caused by the way the brain develops before, during or shortly after birth. It is always lifelong and affects someone's intellectual and social development. It used to be called mental handicap but this term is outdated and offensive. Learning disability is not a mental illness.

Thursday 19th of August 2010 04:00:47 PM