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Home  »   AbilityLatest News   »   PDA Ability Network welcomes introduction of learning disability and autism training for health and social care staff

PDA Ability Network welcomes introduction of learning disability and autism training for health and social care staff

The UK government is consulting on a draft code and asking if it will provide Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered providers with the guidance needed to meet the legislative requirement to ensure all staff receive learning disability and autism training appropriate to their role.

Fri 8th September 2023 The PDA

The Health and Care Act 2022 included the introduction of a requirement for learning disability and autism training for health and social care staff in CQC-regulated services. This is called the ‘Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism’.

The requirement aims to ensure that staff working at all levels across the diverse settings that make up health and social care sectors receive high-quality and appropriate training on learning disability and autism.

The proposal is for two tiers of training:

  • Tier one will involve 90 minutes of eLearning with a handbook and a 60-minute online interactive session.
  • Tier two will involve 90 minutes of eLearning with a handbook and a one-day face-to-face training session.

As an example, in an acute hospital trust, all clinical and support staff are likely to need tier 2 training because they may need to provide care and support to people with autism or people with a learning disability. This includes front-of-service reception staff who may have significant interaction with and/or impact on a patient’s journey. Administrators and scientists who do not have patient-facing roles, such as accountants or microbiologists, may only need tier 1 training.

The government is now consulting on the draft code with a deadline for responses of 16 October.

Oliver McGowan

In 2016, Oliver McGowan, a young autistic teenager with a mild learning disability, sadly died after having a severe reaction to medication that he and his family had asked for him not to receive. Oliver’s parents, Paula and Tom McGowan, have since campaigned for better training for health and care staff. In 2019 the government committed to develop and test a learning disability and autism training package to be made available to all health and social care staff. The training is named in Oliver’s memory, in recognition of his story and his family’s tireless campaigning for better training for staff, and to remember him and others whose lives were cut tragically short.

The PDA Ability Network encourages all pharmacists to develop an appropriate understanding of all forms of disability amongst patients and colleagues. This is to help ensure the appropriate delivery of patient-centered care and to create inclusive workplaces.

As with all training required for their role, the PDA expects employers to provide protected learning time for each pharmacist to complete the training and ongoing support for the learning to be put into practice.

The PDA is also a member of the Inequalities in Health Alliance, a coalition of organisations with an interest in improving the health of the UK. The coalition of organisations have come together to campaign for a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities.

The consultation says that, “Ensuring that staff understand the needs of people with a learning disability and autistic people, and how to make adjustments to their care, is not only good practice, but will improve health outcomes. Building the skills and capability of staff should also lead to increased confidence and better job satisfaction for individuals and teams.

Settings not regulated by the CQC

Patients with Autism or learning disabilities could also interact with any part of the health system, so employers and commissioners of services not regulated by the CQC should consider how staff in those environments will have access to similar training.

Get involved

  • Respond to the consultation
  • Follow the PDA Ability Network on social media using the hashtag #PDAability
  • For more information about the PDA Ability Network, click here.
  • If you would like to get involved with the network and its activities, please email:
  • Join the PDA Ability Network here.

Learn more

Not yet a PDA member?

If you have not yet joined the PDA, we encourage you to join today and ask your colleagues to do the same.

Membership is FREE to pharmacy students, trainee pharmacists, and for the first three months of being newly qualified.


Read about our key member benefits here.








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