New NHS mandate identifies key objectives for people with learning disabilities


The NHS has this week published a new ‘mandate’ which sets out a number of agreements between the Government and the NHS Commissioning Board, which is responsible for improving  health outcomes by supporting the commissioning of effective services.

The mandate identifies five areas for improvement:

  • preventing people from dying prematurely
  • enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions
  • helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury
  • ensuring that people have a positive experience of care
  • treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.

Specific mention of improvements in health support to people with a learning can be found in two objectives within the mandate –

  • to ensure people have a positive experience of care
  • to prevent people dying prematurely.

The most recent interim report from the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities
suggested that people with a learning disability are 58 times more likely to die before the age of 50, and that four times as many people with a learning disability die of preventable causes than the general population. Indeed, a recent programme on BBC radio 4 highlighted the issue of people with learning disbailities dying prematurely as a result of poor hospital care.


The identification of the two specific objectives are a recognition of the importance placed upon this by Government. It will be interesting to see how the local clinical commissioning groups begin to implement commissioning strategies to take account of these new objectives.

You can download the NHS Mandate as a pdf document here

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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