Learning disability and autism, and the NHS Long Term Plan

A girl smiling and holding hands with her grandmother

The NHS has a crucial role to play in helping people with a learning disability, autism or both to lead longer, happier, heathier lives, and the NHS Long Term Plan confirms our commitment to do so.

Progress made over the last three years to boost care options in the community, which has seen a 20% reduction in the use of hospital care, will continue.

For people with a learning disability, autism or both, the NHS Long Term Plan will:

  • Take action on health inequalities by delivering more annual health checks, reducing over-medication, and sustained effort to reduce preventable deaths.
  • Deliver hearing, sight and dental checks for children and young people in special residential schools, working with partners.
  • Continue investment in community support, including 7-day specialist services and crisis care in every area by 2023/24, reducing the number of people needing hospital care to less than half of 2015 levels.
  • Test the most effective ways to bring down waiting times for autism diagnoses.
  • Ensure children and young people with the most complex needs have a named keyworker.
  • Improve training and awareness amongst all NHS staff so services are more inclusive.

Case study

The Ealing Intensive Therapeutic and Short Breaks Service has shown that an intensive support approach prevents children being admitted into institutional care.

Health, mental health, social care and education services are all in one building, working together to ensure young people with a learning disability and distressed behaviour can live well in their community.

This includes a large staff of psychologists in a children and adolescent mental health services and learning disability team. It also includes the Intensive Therapeutic and Short Breaks Service.

The service has prevented a number of residential placements for young people with a learning disability and distressed behaviour, as well as saving money.

View our otherĀ learning disabilities and autism case studies.

Find out more

See what the NHS Long Term Plan says about learning disabilities and autism.