What will the next election bring for learning disability nursing?

Recent reports on learning disability care are hard-hitting but do offer support for nurses who care about improving care for people with learning disabilities

Elaine Clarke sitting in her home next to a picture of her brother, Clive Treacey
Elaine Clarke led a campaign to highlight failings in the care of her brother, Clive Treacey (pictured in frame) Picture: Sky News

We will have a general election in the UK next year or early 2025. What would be in your election manifesto for nursing?

I’m guessing more of your colleagues being recruited and retained, improved pay, reduced workloads, plus better life chances for people with learning disabilities and/or autism would be in there.

Hard-hitting reports on improving care also offer support for learning disability nurses

In terms of improving care there have been two recent reports that underline there is still a long way to go, but these reports also offer positive support for you in your roles as learning disability nurses.

NHS England and SUDEP Action have published guidance aiming to reduce the risks that people with epilepsy face. The new guidance is in memory of Clive Treacey, who had a learning disability and died in 2017, aged 47, after a seizure and cardiac arrest.

It follows a campaign, led by Clive’s sister Elaine Clarke, who highlighted failures in his care that were investigated in an NHS England-commissioned review. Now the Together, the Safer Services Guide and Clive Treacey Safety Checklist have been published.

In November a Health Services Safety Investigations Body report highlighted the patchy nature of learning disability nursing liaison services and why there needs to be more of you in these roles to improve the clinical decisions that are being made in hospitals.

Nurses working in social care deserve recognition and support

And with about 17,000 learning disability nurses on the Nursing and Midwifery Council register and about 5,000 of that number working in the NHS in the UK, the rest could well be working in the independent sector or social care.

The latter group is beginning to get more of a profile nationally and not before time. Nurses working in social care deserve better recognition for the work that is being done. Now the RCN Foundation is funding the first-ever social care nursing chair at the University of Salford and recruitment is under way.

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