NHS England has announced the appointment of Tom Cahill as the national director for learning disability and autism.
Tom, who has been chief executive of Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust since 2009, will join NHS England to build on progress already made in providing people with a learning disability or autism with care in the community, rather than in inpatient settings.
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Tom will also lead work set out in the NHS Long Term Plan to drive up standards across the health service and independent sector which provide inpatient care for people with a learning disability and/or autism.
A former mental health nurse, Tom Cahill has worked in the NHS for over 30 years and under his leadership, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.
Improve the experiences of people with a learning disability
NHS England and NHS Improvement will be undertaking a review, working with commissioners, of every single inpatient with a learning disability, autism or both in a mental health inpatient care setting to ensure that each person has a clear care and treatment plan and discharge date in place. If these are not in place, the review will explore why not.
Tom Cahill said: “I am delighted to be taking up the role of National Learning Disability and Autism Director.
“I look forward to working with colleagues across health and social care to improve the experiences of people with a learning disability to ensure they receive the care they deserve, either from the NHS or the independent sector, and as part of that I am keen to work closely with families and those who have lived experience of using these services.”
Tom will be stepping down from his role at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust at the end of November 2021 and will join NHS England and NHS Improvement in October 2021 on a part-time basis.
Earlier this year, the NHS appointed former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield OBE to help transform the care of children and young people with a learning disability and autism. As the new independent chair of the Learning Disability and Autism Children and Young People’s Steering Group, Anne will champion the rights of children and young people to ensure they get the support they need at the right time.
Commenting on the appointment of Tom Cahill as national director for learning disability and autism, Sean Duggan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, said: “We welcome the appointment of Tom Cahill. Learning disability and autism services have often been overlooked and people with learning disability or autism face some of the worst health inequalities.
“Both statutory and non-statutory organisations have done, and continue to do, great work to provide support, but there is still more to do, for example to ensure people can be supported as close to home as possible. Tom will be an excellent advocate and driver of improvement, and we look forward to working with him.”
Photo credit: HPFT