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New frameworks launched to improve care and support for autistic people and people with learning disabilities

5 November 2019

New frameworks commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) will improve care and support for autistic people and people with learning disabilities.

Drawing directly on the experience of service users, they were jointly developed at every stage by autistic people, people with learning disabilities and their families and carers.The frameworks describe the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed by health and social care staff, and will be used to inform the development and planning of the current and future workforce.

They form part of the Autism Strategy being developed by the Department of Health & Social Care supported by HEE and other stakeholders, and an update to the Learning Disabilities Core Skills Education and Training Framework, revised by HEE along with NHS England (Learning Disabilities Programme).

Earlier this year the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan placed greater focus on preventing health inequalities, including mechanisms to ensure that autistic people and people with learning disabilities have access to better support.

The two new frameworks were commissioned from Skills for Health and are freely accessible online:


Professor Ian Cumming, chief executive, Health Education England, said:

“HEE is committed to reducing health inequalities and, through better education and training of our current and future workforce, this work aims to remove many of the difficulties autistic people and people with learning difficulties can often face when it comes to accessing world-leading NHS care.”

Other bodies involved in the development of the frameworks include Skills for Care; The National Autistic Society; Opening Minds Training & Consultancy; the British Institute of Learning Disabilities; Care England; Mencap and the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG).

Colin Wright, frameworks development manager at Skills for Health, said: 

“These frameworks directly respond to the need to improve health outcomes and avoid premature mortality for autistic people and people with a learning disability.

“They can help support workforce planning and the design and delivery of education and training programmes, recognising that autistic people and people with a learning difficulty have a right to live fulfilling lives, including choice and control over the care they may need.”