This site is intended for health professionals only

Guidance on hiring people with learning disabilities

23 September 2015

Share this article

Guidance from NHS England has been launched today to help NHS employers give more jobs to people with learning disabilities. 

Around 142,000 working-age adults with learning disabilities are known to councils with Adult and Social Services responsibilities and of this group, only 6.7% are in paid employment in England. This compares to the employment rate for all people in the UK at around 79%.

The guidance includes advice on better communication, including using plain English and avoiding jargon;improving training for staff, including making use of resources from expert outside organisations; making reasonable adjustments and providing tailored support, including taking advantage of specific government schemes such as Access to Work. 

It also includes advice on working with local agencies and groups on wider local programmes to tackle employment inequalities, including councils, Jobcentre Plus, local enterprise partnerships and voluntary groups, and; implementing new models of working such as supported employment and co-working.

In response to the release today Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “The NHS doesn’t just have a duty to those who want to work for it to be a good and inclusive employer, it has a duty to patients and to the public to ensure that it takes advantage of the broadest range of skills and experience possible to improve care for all. We know that the will exists in lots of NHS organisations; these resources show them the way to get on, do it, and show others that they can and should be doing this too.” 

The benefits to employers of hiring those with learning diabilities include savings associated with reduced employee turnover, accessing a wider pool of talent and experience, and creating a more inclusive and accessible organisation, NHS England said. 

NHS Learning Disability Employment Programme was launched in June by NHS England and NHS Employers, aiming to make NHS workforces more representative of the local communities they serve.

So far, 50 employers have committed to the scheme, including Steve Hitchins, chairman of Whittington Health, who said: “This is an initiative that we definitely want to sign up to. An inclusive workforce is absolutely essential to delivering our vision of being an outstanding provider of high quality joined up healthcare to local people.” 

To support the rollout of the tools and guidance, NHS England will be running three events across the country to provide practical training, help build networks and give local health and care employers advice. They will be held in: Bristol (7 October), Manchester (25 November) and London (9 December). 

See the guidance here