Employing people in the NHS with learning disabilities

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17 / 6 / 2015 9.24am

NHS Employers has partnered with NHS England to provide a range of tools that encourage and support health organisations to increase their recruitment of people with learning disabilities. 

The aim of the tools and guidance is to raise awareness, highlight good practice, break down the barriers that both employers and potential employees may face, and create a culture that welcomes people with learning disabilities.

The tools and guidance are structured around five building blocks which will take an employer or manager through the process of recruiting and employing someone with a learning disability.

We are inviting organisations to make a pledge to demonstrate their commitment to employing people with learning disabilities. 

Download the full learning disabilities tools and guidance.

Download the easy read learning disability tools and guidance


I have a learning disability – what does the programme mean for me?

This programme is about working with NHS organisations to make changes so they can employ more people with learning disabilities. The aim of the programme is to employ more people with learning disabilities in the NHS. We have made a toolkit that helps NHS organisations to make changes to what they do. We are sharing ideas and examples of how NHS organisations can employ people with learning disabilities. This means that more NHS organisations will be ready to employ people with learning disabilities.

I have a learning disability and I would like an NHS job. What should I do?

Visit the NHS Jobs website regularly and search for jobs or contact employment support organisations to get help. 

Tools and guidance

Learning disability employment building blocks

Getting started

  • making the case
  • external support 

Identifying real jobs

  • where do I start?
  • entry routes to employment


  • induction
  • monitoring
  • staff survey adjustments

Being an accessible employer

  • Equality Act 2010
  • communicating
  • training
  • support

Advertising and recruitment

  • advertising
  • accessible applications
  • pre-employment checks


NHS England's learning disability engagement team has also created a series of tools to help with various aspects of the recruitment process:

There is also a series of supporting tools that complement the tools and guidance. These tools include an infographic explaining why you should employ more people with learning disabilities.


NHS England is delivering three engagement events to help NHS organisations:

  • remove potential barriers to employing people with learning disabilities
  • learn from other NHS organisations who are doing good work in this area
  • meet local organisations who can provide support. 

Book your place on the one-day events in Bristol (7 October), Manchester (25 November) and London (9 December).

Read the NHS Learning Disabilities Employment letter from our chief executive, Danny Mortimer, and Chief Nursing Officer, Jane Cummings, which aims to:

  • increase awareness of tools and guidance/ the programme
  • encourage chief executives and HR directors to attend the engagement events
  • encourage chief executives and HR directors to show their commitment by signing the pledge
  • invite chief executives and HR directors to meet Simon Stevens and showcase the work of their organisation in June 2016.

Who should come? 

  • leaders of NHS organisations 
  • HR, workforce development, equality and diversity teams
  • line managers
  • teams providing services to people with learning disabilities.

Stories of good practice across the NHS

NHS organisations are already working with local partners to help more people with learning disabilities find employment. NHS England has produced a number of inspirational stories from people who have benefited from partnership working and who are now in employment. 

You can read these stories by following the links on the right hand side of this page.

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