We have launched a ‘call to action’ to third sector, industry and academia partners to seek new and improved ways of tackling the challenges of supporting citizens in Kent, Surrey and Sussex who have a learning disability.

The aim of the call is to determine how we could better support our region through delivering new approaches, support partners with their existing projects, or to find additional solutions for existing approaches.

The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) says that the “whole NHS will improve its understanding of the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism, and work together to improve their health and wellbeing.” This recognises that the NHS, in partnership with the wider health, social and third sector system, has a crucial role to play in helping people with a learning disability, autism or both lead longer, happier and healthier lives.

The LTP aims to improve people’s health by making sure they receive timely and appropriate health checks, while improving the level of awareness and understanding across the NHS of how best to support them as patients.

In Kent, Surrey and Sussex there are approximately 80,000 people (1.6% of the population) known to be living with a learning disability. However, it is expected that the true figure is much higher due to a lack of comprehensive data.

People with learning disabilities experience higher incidences of chronic health conditions, poorer health outcomes, increased risk of premature death and are more likely to have multiple long term conditions.

They are also more likely than the general population to experience (according to NHSE 2018-19 data):
• Asthma: 9.2% compared to 5.8% of the general population
• Dementia: 1.4% compared to 0.7%
• Severe mental illness: 7.9% compared to 0.9%
• Epilepsy: 26 times more likely to occur than the general population
• Overweight: 37.5% compared to 30.1%.

How can innovation help
KSS AHSN and partners want to seek solutions to address some of the problems that have been identified through workshops and focus groups with citizens, carers and the wider health and social care system. The primary aim is to improve the lives of those with learning disabilities and their carers.

Applied research, re-designed pathways and new solutions are invited that focus on the following areas:
• Addressing nonverbal needs and sensory needs for those with learning disabilities when engaging with the NHS in acute settings, primary care and in the community;
• Improving communications and links between parts of the health & social care system in relation to citizen and career details, individual’s needs, treatments etc with focus on admittance and discharge of secondary care to and from community;
• Supporting the prevention, identification and management of long-term conditions for those with learning disabilities;
• Addressing the health inequalities for those with learning disabilities across geographical boundaries e.g. citizens living in rural areas; and
• Improving the data available for use in relation to numbers and specifics around learning disabilities which would support improvements in planning and decision making
• Improving assessment and diagnostic pathways in particular for children and young people regarding ADHD and autism.

Desired impact /outcomes
KSS AHSN and partners aim to identify existing innovations that may be of benefit to the problem areas above.

This is an explorative call to industry and others and does not come with any specific funding attached. Instead, it is anticipated that any selected innovation (s) would work with the health and social care system and with citizens directly to further develop their solution.

Preference for this call will be given to ‘on market’ technology with an existing evidence base; at a minimum innovation should be ‘close to market’. Note that this is not a call for proof of concept projects.

To express an interest in receiving further information please contact Athina Lockyer athina.lockyer@nhs.net with outline details of:
• which problem you are seeking to address
• how your innovation supports the challenge
• what the expected impact of your innovation would be.

Additional areas we are looking for innovators with relevant solutions:
• Screening
• Frailty
• End of life care
• Dermatology