2018 Learning Disabilities Project – Results published

We are pleased to share that the publication of the 2018 Learning Disabilities project report and toolkit, presenting the results of this year’s benchmarking project is now available on the members’ area.

The NHS Benchmarking Network’s Learning Disability project provides a broad assessment of the state of NHS learning disability services. The project plays a key role in understanding how services are commissioned, funded, and provided. This is the 4th cycle of the project’s work which also provides an opportunity to track changes taking place over time.


This year the project ran alongside the NHS Improvement learning disabilities improvement standards project, which ran for an initial pilot year and provides quantitative and qualitative benchmarking information on providers baseline position in achieving the national improvement standards. Both projects are aligned with national policy and reference NHS England's Transforming Care Programme.

52 organisations took part in the 2018 Learning Disabilities project. Participants cover providers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and include NHS and Independent sector organisations. These organisations provided data on adult and children’s learning disability services, covering inpatient and community services.

Available to members participants are:

  • A summary report providing an overview of the national position, including a good practice compendium, summarising innovations developed by individual sites.

  • An online analytics tool which allows organisations to view their benchmarked positions on key indicators.

  • A bespoke report which outlines the key metrics from the project, showing individual Trust positions on each chart.

The findings from the project describe a continually changing position for LD provision. Inpatient care is reducing in line with the Transforming Care strategy although the rate of bed reduction has slowed. However, there is no evidence of a parallel increase in community based provision.

Costs of direct care continue to be significantly lower than when the project began in 2013/14. This year we have seen a further increase in waiting times for community services. Baseline investment in specialist community LD services increased marginally over 2016/17 levels but it is still 35% lower than in 2013/14.

The largest part of the LD workforce continues to be support workers, especially in inpatient services. Community teams have a richer skill-mix although overall capacity has reduced.

Participants can view their local positions on all the metrics and many others via the members’ area of the Network website.

The 2018 project is now complete and is scheduled to run again in 2019. If you have any questions about this report or the project, please contact Jessica Walsh (Jessica.walsh1@nhs.net)