A collaborative to address health inequalities and transform the lives of people with learning disabilities and/or autism (LD&A) across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland has now been formally agreed.

Led by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) – and in partnership with Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board (ICB) – the LDA Collaborative will build on the work which has progressed over the previous two years to co-ordinate the transformation of LD&A services, while also overseeing quality, performance and outcomes.

The LDA Collaborative will also continue to build on closer working arrangements between the local NHS, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Rutland County Council, and other stakeholders – including voluntary and community organisations. This cross-organisational approach has provided a unique opportunity for organisations to work together as a system to solve current challenges and ensure better health, better care and efficient use of resources.

Individuals with lived experience, and carers will also play a significant role, ensuring that improvements in provision and support will be based on their needs.

Significant progress has already been made by the collaborative, which includes reducing the number of long-term LD&A hospital patients by 25 per cent since 2019, increasing supported accommodation, and working towards ensuring all people with a learning disability in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland receive an annual health check. Additionally, members of this collaborative have led on 25 quality improvement initiatives.

This work is just the foundation. People with a learning disability and/or autism across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland face considerable health inequalities and poorer health outcomes. However, the LDA Collaborative has clear ambitions which include:

  • ensuring everyone with a learning disability has a health check undertaken each year;
  • person-centred, proactive and preventative care being delivered;
  • access to specialist services and early intervention when needed;
  • admission to an acute mental health hospital only when necessary, and timely discharge;
  • co-ordinated health and social care across the system;
  • systematic learning from LeDeR and outcomes embedded across the system;
  • working with neighbourhoods and the voluntary sector to reduce health inequalities;
  • development of community of providers and alternative support; and
  • more support to families e.g. CYP Keyworker.

David Williams, director of strategy and partnerships, at LPT, said:

“Currently people with a learning disability or autism have a shorter life expectancy than other people. Forming a collaborative, builds on our commitments to work together to champion better outcomes for everyone with a learning disability or autism.  I am very proud that we are the first collaborative in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and this signals how important our work together is.  For too long there have been gaps in care pathways, people don’t always get the integrated care they deserve.

“Working together as a collaborative demonstrates our commitment to removing those gaps and barriers, ensuring everyone can access integrated care and lives and outcomes can be improved.”

Caroline Trevithick, Chief Nurse and Deputy CEO in the LLR ICB, said:

‘We know how important it is to improve the quality of care for people with a learning disability and autism and how the quality of services deteriorates when we allow people to fall in the gaps created by organisational silos. This collaborative has already demonstrated how working together with people at the heart of their work has started to make real improvements to the quality of the care we provide for our population.’

Laura Smith, acting assistant director – Learning Disability & Autism, at LPT, said:

“We believe that all people with a learning disability and/or autism have the fundamental right to live good, fulfilling lives, within their communities with access to the right support from the right people at the right time. This collaborative brings that belief closer to happening. By combining the work of local authorities, NHS providers and commissioners into one virtual team, we have already removed barriers and provided more seamless, flexible, person-centred services.

“The progress we have already made is impressive, particularly on discharging patients from long stays in hospital and making annual health checks more widely available. However, this is just the start, we are determined to work together to achieve real and lasting change.”