Learning Disability and Autism Training

All GP practices in England must ensure their staff receive training in learning disability and autism, including how to interact appropriately with people with a learning disability and autistic people. This requirement was introduced by the Health and Care Act 2022 in July last year. The government’s preferred training programme is the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism. However, the Act does not specify a training package or course for staff.

New autism support launched for families and carers across England

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The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism

What is it and why has it been introduced?

The training is named after Oliver McGowan.

Oliver was a teenager who died in 2016 after being given antipsychotic medication he was known to be intolerant to.

The training is part of the government’s ‘Right to be heard’ commitments.

The training will equip the health and social care workforce with the right skills, knowledge & confidence they need to improve provide safe, compassionate and informed care and outcomes for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

The training will be standardised & accredited, drawing on:

  • existing best practice
  • the expertise of people with a learning disability, autistic people and family carers
  • subject matter experts.

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Do we have to do it?

The Government has introduced a requirement for Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered service providers to ensure their employees receive learning disability and autism training appropriate to their role.

This requirement is set out in the Health and Care Act 2022 .

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What exactly do we have to do?

Under the Health and Social Care Act 2022, health and social care providers will need to complete training on learning disability and autism, but can find an alternative training package to the Oliver McGowan package if they prefer

Everyone has to complete some training on learning disability and autism as per the Act and the “e-learning for health” training package is free and available to all, so practices may wish to use this resource. The e-learning will help staff understand learning disability and autism, as well as methods of communication and reasonable adjustments people may need.

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This is the BMA’s statement of 30.11.23 regarding Oliver McGowan Training:

The DHSC consultation into the implementation of the ‘Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training’ has now closed and we are awaiting the recommendations. GPC England has responded, expressing a number of concerns regarding the impact this programme may have on General Practice.

In the interim you should note that there is a legal requirement within the Health and Social Care Act 2022 for GP practice staff to receive training in Autism and Learning Disability. However, whilst the title of the programme includes the word mandatory, this does not mean that any single particular training programme is required. It is for the time being, the DHSC and NHS England recommended programme, so should practices undertake this programme, CQC and ICB teams will accept this.

It is unlikely, at least in the short term, that practices will find it easy to identify alternatives, especially for Tier 2 training, which needs to be delivered by specified trainers including one person with Learning Disability/Autism. If practices do undertake alternative Tier 1 training, it is recommended they ask the training provider for written assurances of the equivalency of their training programme to the Tier 1 Oliver McGowan training (which can be delivered remotely). CQC is waiting to receive clarification in relation to the accreditation of alternative training packages.

Tier 2 training currently involves a full day’s face-to-face training: given the numbers of eligible participants, undertaking such training will cause a significant interruption in service capacity. Ideally Tier 2 training should be delivered over one day only, within six months of receiving Tier 1 training. This creates a difficulty for practices as at present it is unlikely local dates have been set for Tier 2 training and this may not be realistic to do until the outcome of the Consultation is known.

GPC England recommends that the training should be coordinated by local ICB teams working with Training Hubs, once the outcome of the Consultation have been published. CQC’s advice to practices about this type of training is available here.

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Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) are being supported to develop training capacity across England. As the number of trainers grows, the access to the online interactive and face-to-face training will increase. Each ICB will make its own decisions about how it organises and prioritises its delivery.

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