New pilot for people with a learning disability

NHS Digital has announced a new pilot which will improve care for people with a learning disability by introducing a reasonable adjustment flag on patient records.

The reasonable adjustment flag on patient records will alert doctors, nurses and other health and care staff that a patient has a learning disability and has specific needs that require adjustments to the services provided so they get the best care.

In the trial, staff will access the information through a patient’s record on the Summary Care Record application, a program designed to share key information about patients. Looking ahead, it will then be integrated with clinical systems so that staff will be able to see it on their own screens as soon as they search for the patient.

The pilots in Gloucestershire and Devon, which will run until the end of September, involve various care settings including GP surgeries, hospitals and community services for learning disability. They will look at how care is impacted when that information is readily available to staff from the first point of contact onwards.

NHS Digital will then explore a potential expansion, including widening the geographical area, giving access to more care settings and trialling integration with clinical systems.

Susan Hanley, chief executive of Leeds People First and leading learning disability campaigner, said: “1.5 million people in the United Kingdom have a learning disability but it can’t always be seen. For me, if the hospital had a system that told them that I wanted easy-read information and for the doctor to speak clearly with no jargon, it would be really useful as I don’t always have my health passport on me. Some people don’t want to repeat themselves to everyone they meet so this information on a computer would help.”

Rob Jeeves, clinical lead for the project at NHS Digital, said: “By helping staff to recognise their patients’ needs earlier, we can help those patients access the best possible care while reducing pressure on the NHS. This pilot will explore how flagging vital information can influence the experience of care for people with a learning disability. This will help to drive real improvement for a patient group that is disproportionally affected by poor health outcomes.  I welcome this step and look forward to the results of the pilot.”

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