Consultation ‘shows changing attitudes’

Learning difficulties organisations have welcomed a government
consultation on opening up the NHS as evidence that the group is
being accepted more into the mainstream.

The Developing Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in Health and
Social Care consultation aims to develop “radical proposals” on
empowering patients in NHS services, including children’s health,
continuing care, mental health, older people’s care, maternity
services, emergency care and primary care.

Some were concerned that the omission of a specific category for
people with learning difficulties was at odds with the government’s
Valuing People agenda. But Michelle Chinery, co-chairperson of the
Learning Disability Taskforce, believes their views will be fed
into all the service areas.

“I don’t think learning disabilities should be treated separately,
but as part of the mainstream health service. We get a second-class
service from the NHS and I hope the consultation will address
that,” she said.

Jo Williams, chief executive of charity Mencap, agreed that
learning difficulty perspectives were relevant to all the areas.
“We are talking about 1.5 million people who are users of the
health service. I don’t expect them to be an add-on,” she said.

Expert groups will be set up to collate views and make
recommendations in the autumn. 

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