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Learning Disabilities

A learning disability has been defined in Valuing People Now as the following:

In Valuing People (2001) they describe a ‘learning disability’ as a:

  • significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills
  • reduced ability to cope independently which starts before adulthood with lasting effects on development.

(Department of Health. Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century. 2001).

Further information on Learning Disability can be found in the following link:

A learning disability occurs when the brain is still developing - before, during or soon after birth.

  • Before birth things can happen to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) that can cause a learning disability. A child can be born with a learning disability if the mother has an accident or illness while she is pregnant, or if the unborn baby develops certain genes. Genes are chemicals in our bodies that contain information about us - like how we look.
  • A person can be born with a learning disability if he or she does not get enough oxygen during childbirth, or is born too early.
  • After birth, a learning disability can be caused by early childhood illnesses.

Getting a diagnosis of learning disability

A learning disability can be diagnosed at any time. A child may be diagnosed at birth, or a parent or professional may notice a difference in their development during early childhood. For some people it may be many years before they receive a diagnosis – while others may never receive a diagnosis at all. Even with a diagnosis, it is often not possible to say why someone has a learning disability. People with a learning disability are often confused with people with mental health needs. The two are quite different and it may be that a person with a learning disability can develop mental health needs later in their life. ( excerpts taken from the MENCAP website)

The documents listed here gives an overview of the following:

  • It gives a brief guidelines of how to make things easy read for people with learning disabilities
  • Death by Indifference report - findings of a national report that was published following the death of six individuals in different care homes
  • Valuing People Now – the national guidelines published by the DOH giving people with a learning disability a voice, make them feel included, their right to be protected, their right to healthy lives, and their right to choose from personalised services.

Havering CCG are seeing Learning Disabilities as a priority going forward as we have one of the worst uptake rates in the UK and the worst in London for providing our Learning Disability patients with their annual health checks.

 Please find a separate page for the Learning Disabilities Easy Read Pack. The link is Learning Disabilities Easy Read Packs


Please see below some reports and documentation regarding Learning Disabilities including the DES guidance for 2014/15.


If you have any queries relating to Learning Disabilities and what you can do as a practice please contact Jennifer Hibben at the CCG on 01708 574 914 or contact the local Community Learning Disabilities team.

External links

© 2022 NHS Havering Clinical Commissioning Group.