Seldom heard voices in medical and healthcare professional education: what do you want your doctor to know?


Research team: Dr Naomi Quinton, Dr Gemma LouchDr Jane O’HaraDr Abigail Albutt, Olivia Joseph and Kate Smyth

Why is this project important?

People with learning disabilities die at a rate far greater than the general population (median age of death is 23 years younger for men and 29 years younger for women) and from conditions which could be prevented or treated with good quality care. Mortality reviews of those with learning disabilities show three common themes regularly occurring:

  • the need for healthcare coordination for people with complex or multiple health conditions
  • assurance that effective reasonable adjustments are being provided for people with learning disabilities and their families
  • mandatory learning disability awareness training for all staff supporting people with learning disabilities

This disparity in mortality needs urgent attention. There is little definitive teaching about learning disability in the MBChB and so the aim of this project is to incorporate the views and experiences of those voices seldom heard in healthcare professional education (in this initial case, those with learning disabilities) into healthcare curricula.

What are we doing?

We are engaging with learning disability charities in West and North Yorkshire to ask those with learning disabilities and their careers and advocates what they want from their healthcare professionals. After these initial discussions we aim to work with our participants to develop learning materials for our MBChB and other healthcare professions students. Following our engagement with people with learning disabilities, we hope to make additions and improvements to the MBChB curriculum and other healthcare professional curricula to increase awareness of the specialised health needs of this group of people and contribute to the development of excellence in practice by our future doctors and healthcare professionals.

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement

The involvement of those with learning disabilities, their carers and advocates is integral to the success of our project. This project is being supported by our Lay Leader, and our study documents have been produced in easy read format in collaboration with a local community group that supports people with learning disabilities. 

Outputs and Impact                                                                                             

  • Workshop: Improving Patient Safety: New Horizons, New Perspectives, Leeds – October 2019.

Contact for more information: Dr Naomi Quinton