Home Learning Disabilities & Autism Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism passes into law

Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism passes into law

by Lisa Carr

Today The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism passed into law as part of the Health and Care Act 2022, following strong support by the government to legislate for mandatory training across the health and care sectors.

The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training will educate and train health and social care staff, at the right level for their role, to provide better health and social care outcomes for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

On Thursday 17th March 2022, Baroness Sheila Hollins put forward an amendment to the Health and Care Bill in the House of Lords to pass The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training into law, which was supported by Peers and accepted by the government.

People with a learning disability are more likely to die avoidably and die younger than the general population.[i] The passing into law of Oliver’s training is an important step in ensuring people with a learning disability and autistic people get the health and care support they need.

Oliver McGowan was a young man with a mild learning disability and autism, who died aged 18 after being given anti-psychotic medication against both his own and his parents’ wishes, because  he had experienced previous adverse reactions to anti-psychotics.

Oliver’s premature death is not an isolated incident and highlighted the urgent need for health and social care staff to have better training in understanding learning disability and autism. In 2019 the government consulted on the future rollout of mandatory training, and Health Education England have led trials of future mandatory training, which concluded at the end of 2021. An independent evaluation of the trials is expected to be published shortly.

Upon the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training passing into law Professor Sheila, the Baroness Hollins, said: “I am pleased to have worked with the government to deliver on the face of the Health and Care Act this vital requirement. That we will also have a Code of Practice on implementation of Oliver’s training is very welcome, supporting health and social care employers to understand the training that needs to be delivered for their staff and the outcomes that must be achieved.”

Paula McGowan, OBE, and Tom McGowan, Oliver’s parents, said: “It is hugely significant that Oliver’s training is now mandated in law, ready to be rolled out from 2023 to 3.7 million staff working across health and social care settings. We would like to thank Baroness Hollins and the government for working together to deliver the commitment made in the 2019 consultation ‘Right to be Heard’ to make Oliver’s training mandatory. This training will save lives and ensure Oliver’s legacy lives on in the delivery of better health and care services for millions of autistic people and people with a learning disability.”

Edel Harris OBE, Chief Executive of Royal Mencap Society said: “Mencap is proud to have been part of the trials of the future mandatory training over the last two years, working with Health Education England. At least 1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably each year, and behind every death is a family like Oliver’s. Mencap are proud to stand beside Oliver’s parents who have campaigned tirelessly for better health outcomes for a group that is too often forgotten. We will continue to do everything we can to support colleagues across government, the NHS and social care sectors with the successful national rollout of this vital training, which will ultimately save lives.”

If anyone is struggling to access the healthcare they need, they can contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 or visit www.mencap.org.uk.

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