Westminster Health Forum

Autism and learning disabilities care in England - addressing health inequalities, workforce challenges and next steps for policy


This conference will assess the key issues for autism and learning disabilities care in England.

Areas for discussion include:

  • joining up policy across health, social care and education,
  • addressing inequalities and delivering integrated personalised care, and
  • next steps for policy.

Bringing together key stakeholders with policymakers, the seminar comes with a government response expected on the Review of the National Autism Strategy ‘Think Autism’ consultation on proposals to inform a new national cross-government strategy.

The strategy, which is expected to be published later this year, will focus on improving the health, care and wellbeing of autistic people, their families and carers.

Delegates will discuss the way forward for the strategy in extending the priorities listed in the 2014 'Think Autism' strategy to cover to children as well as adults.

They will also assess next steps for the Department of Health and Social Care in collaboration with the Department for Education in building communities that are:

  • more aware and accessible to needs,
  • promoting local ideas, services and projects, and
  • improving advice and information services.

The agenda looks at the priorities for delivering the new strategy, as well as the progress in implementing goals for learning disabilities and autism in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Delegates will also examine the wider direction of policy and priorities for the new government, looking at the implications and next steps following announcements in the Queen’s Speech, including:

  • £74m funding over three years for increased capacity in community care settings for those with learning disabilities and autism;
  • Aims to make discharge from hospital easier through reforms to the Mental Health Act and through a National Strategy for Disabled People;
  • Commitments to seeking cross-party agreement on the way forward for social care reform; and
  • An NHS Funding Bill to deliver funding commitments and the NHS Long Term Plan.


There will be keynote contributions from:

  • Dr Kevin Cleary, Deputy Chief Inspector, Hospitals Mental Health and Community Services, CQC; and
  • David Nuttall, Deputy Director, Dementia and Disabilities, DHSC.

Further confirmed speakers include: Justin Cooke, Ambitious about Autism; Professor Pauline Heslop, University of Bristol and Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Programme for England; George Matuska, Learning Disability and Autism Lead, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust; Yvonne Newbold, NHS Assembly and Author, The Special Parent’s Handbook; Dr Ashok Roy, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and Health Education England and Councillor Helen Whitehead, Thanet District Council.

The agenda

  • Next steps for delivering the new adults and children’s autism strategy;
  • Progress in meeting goals in the NHS Long Term Plan for learning disabilities and autism;
  • Assessing the impact of the NHS Long Term Plan and the role of the new strategy - funding, health inequalities and delivering integrated personalised care;
  • Priorities for parents, carers and individuals: awareness, support and engagement;
  • Workforce education, skills and training - implementing the Autism Core Capabilities Framework;
  • Key issues from CQC review into restraint, seclusion and segregation; and
  • Integrating health and education policy.

Engagement with policy officials at this conference

This Westminster Health Forum conference has attracted strong interest from policymakers. It will be an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with officials who have reserved places representing: DHSC; DWP; Health Education England; Cabinet Office; DfE; DfT; HMPPS; Home Office; MHCLG and the MoJ.

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Health Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates