Valuing People With Learning Disabilities

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People with learning disabilities will be supported in every aspect of their lives, from housing and health to employment, Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson announced today.

'Valuing People Now - A Three Year Strategy for People with Learning Disabilities' presents a new vision for improving services for people with learning disabilities across health, housing, employment and community care services. It follows a comprehensive consultation involving more than 10,000 people.

Improving training, commissioning of services and strengthening local structures to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities, are fundamental elements of the Strategy.

Key aims include:

* ensuring people with learning disabilities get the healthcare they need and the support they want to live healthy lives;

* supporting more people with learning disabilities, including those with more complex needs, into paid work;

* ensuring people with learning disabilities have the choice to have relationships, become parents and continue to be parents; and

* giving people with learning disabilities opportunities to study and enjoy leisure and social activities.

Progress will be reviewed annually. A new national Learning Disability Programme Board and Regional Boards will ensure the strategy works, share good practice and provide a forum for stakeholder groups to discuss progress and concerns.

Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson said: "All people with learning disabilities must be supported to live, full, independent lives as equal citizens across all aspects of life. This strategy will help make that a reality and I urge the NHS, local authorities and public services to take this opportunity to make real progress to transform people's lives."

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Valuing People Now also contains the Government's response to the Independent Inquiry chaired by Sir Jonathan Michael. This was set up by former Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt in response to the Mencap report 'Death by Indifference' in 2007.

In response to the Independent Inquiry, the Department will:

* establish a confidential inquiry to investigate the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities;

* commission a new Public Health Observatory to provide essential data information at a national and local level; and

* work with the professional regulatory bodies to ensure medical students and NHS professionals receive training on learning disabilities, equalities and human rights.

These steps will build upon measures already taken in response to the inquiry's report, such as annual GP health checks for people with learning disabilities and the 'reasonable adjustments' to general health services PCTs were directed to make in the NHS Operating Framework for 2009/10.

Mr Johnson added: "I accept the recommendations of Sir Jonathan Michael's Independent Inquiry. We will set up a confidential inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities as soon as possible, along with a Public Health Observatory to provide data on services. These will help improve NHS commissioning of services further. "

Mark Goldring, chief executive of learning disability charity Mencap, said: "Valuing People Now is a very welcome report with great significance for people with a learning disability. It is a vision that puts people with a learning disability at the centre of their care - and offers clear solutions for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and for carers.

"This is a commendable continuation of the important work of Valuing People, particularly with the delivery plan and partnership boards, to help ensure real change for people with a learning disability. We welcome that Valuing People Now goes beyond just health services. It means that other departments must follow the lead of the Department of Health in improving services for people with a learning disability.

"Valuing People Now has rightly acted on the recommendations of Mencap's Death by Indifference report as well as the independent inquiry from Sir Jonathan Michael. These systemic recommendations for improvements in health care are an important step forward and will be good news for all people with a learning disability.

"The delivery plan is a much welcome and important part of Valuing People Now. It could make a real difference to people with a learning disability. We urge the Government to make Valuing People Now a reality as soon as possible"

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