Commissioners are being urged to get behind a scheme for people with a learning disability to test NHS services and suggest ways their needs can be met.
NHS England has launched a search for people to join the NHS Quality Checkers programme.
It is also looking for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and NHS providers to test, evaluate and commission the programme before it is rolled out this year and in 2017-18.
It hopes their advice will help reduced the “significant barriers” people with a learning disability can face when accessing NHS services.
These can include tackling complicated forms and language, navigating their way round confusing building layouts and encounters with staff who are unsure of how to interact with them.
NHS England said these barriers can mean people with a learning disability are less likely to use services including important health checks and cancer screening.
This means they are more likely to suffer from poor health.
NHS England is keen for Quality Checkers to share their views on services and support –which can be missing from other inspections.
They will carry out inspections of GP and dental practices, talking to other service users about their experiences and judging their findings against the criteria they think are important.
NHS England’s experience of care lead for mental health and learning disabilities Scott Durairaj said: “The experience that people with learning disabilities have of health services directly impacts on how likely they are to use them, and therefore how healthy they’re likely to be.”
Their input has made a “real difference” to local services and NHS England wants to take it to the next level to improve health outcomes across England.
Durairaj said he wanted commissioners to get on board.
“It is important to gain the backing from commissioners to implement this across the country and help to build the momentum.”
In Northamptonshire Nene and Corby CCG’s commissioning lead for learning disability Claira Ferreira said: “Our quality checker service has been invaluable in supporting us with value-based commissioning and has helped the voice of people with learning disabilities to be heard.”
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