General hospital care for children with learning disabilities has scope for improvement

Less than half of NHS staff surveyed said they were routinely informed that a child has learning disabilities through a dedicated flagging system on admission.

Many general hospital staff lack confidence and organisational support in providing care for children and young people with learning disabilities. In an NIHR national hospital staff-awareness survey, staff were uncertain or unaware of local policy and practice. Only half of the children’s hospitals had a learning disability nurse, and where they did exist, there was disparity in the status and importance attributed to the role. This is likely to prevent the needs of these children being fully met.

This research shows the frequent lack of well-embedded local policies to support children with learning disabilities in general hospitals and the current variation in practice.