employedHealth service organisations in England are to receive resources and guidance designed to help them to recruit more people with learning disabilities.

The resources are part of the NHS Learning Disability Employment Programme, a joint programme between NHS England and NHS Employers that was launched during Learning Disability Week in June. More than 50 employers have registered their interest so far.

This programme is the next step in a commitment made in the NHS Five Year Forward View to make NHS workforces more representative of the local communities they serve. It takes the form of a new national network providing advice, ideas and impetus to all NHS organisations – from local hospital trusts to national bodies – to remove barriers and take steps to accelerate employment of people with learning disabilities in the NHS.

The new resources outline how to open up meaningful jobs to people with learning disabilities and highlight the benefits to employers of doing so, including savings associated with reduced employee turnover, accessing a wider pool of talent and experience and creating a more inclusive and accessible organisation.

Practical advice covered by the guidance includes: 

Communicating better, 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 enabling support, including taking advantage of specific government schemes such as Access to Work

Working with local agencies and groups on wider local programmes to tackle employment inequalities, including councils, Jobcentre Plus, local enterprise partnerships and voluntary groups

Implementing new models of working, such as job carving, supported employment and co-working.

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.” 

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, added: “The workplace itself can do a huge amount to help remove stigma around learning [disabilities] and help all members of our community to play their full part. Small adjustments are often all it takes and the most effective changes can be attitudinal ones.

“The NHS has some of the country’s best employers for supporting colleagues with learning disabilities, so we will use NHS Learning Disability Employment to help spread this best practice throughout the health service. This will also help the NHS to recruit new staff, who will feel valued in their roles and enrich our workplaces.”