I recognise your concerns about the lack of understanding of the needs of people with developmental disabilities in healthcare settings and wider society and I agree that healthcare professionals should be given the time and resources to access training in this area. Eradicating healthcare inequalities for people with a learning disability should remain a national priority for this Government.
I pay tribute to the many charities and organisations who are campaigning for solutions to inequalities in healthcare and improved treatment for people with learning disabilities. I was concerned to learn from a survey published by Mencap that almost a quarter of healthcare professionals had never attended any training specifically on learning disability. Indeed, two-thirds of staff surveyed wanted more training and more than half thought that more on-the-job learning disability training would enable them to provide better support to people with a learning disability.
The first ever autism strategy for England was developed in 2009 and included duties and recommendations for local authorities and NHS organisations on the training of staff. I believe the Government should work with public services to improve awareness of conditions such as autism in health services and wider society and set the ambition to make our country autism-friendly.
The Learning Disabilities Mortality Review, published in May, found a systematic disregard for the health and care of people with learning disabilities. Avoidable deaths of people with learning disabilities are too often met with indifference, leaving families to battle to find out what happened and why. I believe Ministers must act to establish a National Mortality Review Board to investigate the 1,200 premature deaths every year.
I assure you I will press the Government on the importance of autism and learning disabilities training across all public services and ensure that tackling inequalities for people with a learning disability is a top priority for the Government.