The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in learning disability and autism has been signed into law with royal assent as part of the Government ’s Health and Social Care Act. This followed Baroness Sheila Hollins tabling a successful amendment to the Bill, which was accepted by government.

This is a vital step towards ensuring that health and social care staff understand the needs of people with a learning disability and/or autism in their care and have the confidence and skills to ensure they can access the healthcare they need.

Oliver McGowan was just 18 years old when he died. Oliver was a much- loved young man, who had mild autism, epilepsy and a learning disability. He was happy and courageous and had a full life ahead of him.

Oliver died after being given anti-psychotic medication against both his own and his parents’ wishes, because he had experienced previous adverse reactions to this type of medication. An independent Learning Disability Mortality Review into his death concluded that it was preventable.

We know that Oliver’s premature death was not an isolated incident. It’s estimated that at least 1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably each year when timely access to good quality care could have saved them. Oliver’s death highlighted the urgent need for health and social care staff to have better training in understanding learning disability and autism.

It’s also why Oliver’s parents, Paula and Tom, have campaigned tirelessly for better health outcomes for a group that is too often forgotten. It has been a privilege to work with them and others calling for mandatory training.

In 2020, Mencap were pleased to be announced as one of the partners working with Health Education England on the pilots of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Learning Disability and Autism training for all health and social care staff, alongside expert partners and colleagues with lived experience.

Through co-design and delivery of training with people with a learning disability and family members,  people with lived experience are at the heart of the training we trialed – something that is key in changing attitudes and practice among health and care professionals.

Mencap will continue to do everything we can to support colleagues across government, the NHS and social care sectors with the successful national rollout of this vital training, and the Code of Practice the Health and Care Act provides for, which will ultimately save lives.

We are proud to stand beside Paula and Tom. Without their perseverance and dedication, there could be many more people like Oliver who are taken from the world too soon.

Watch the video

Baroness Sheila Hollins presents the Motion for Mandatory Training