Learning Disability

The Northern Cancer Alliance work closely with the North East and Cumbria Learning Disability Network. We aim to reduce the inequalities faced by people with a learning disability in understanding, access and outcomes.

What is a learning disability?

Valuing People, the 2001 White Paper on the health and social care of people with learning disabilities, included the following definition of learning disabilities:

Learning disability includes the presence of:

  • a significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills (impaired intelligence), with;
  • a reduced ability to cope independently (impaired social functioning);
  • which started before adulthood, with a lasting effect on development.

A working definition of Learning Disabilities – Eric Emerson and Pauline Heslop

Learning disability organisations


Mencap is the leading voice of learning disability. Mencap are passionate about changing the world for everyone with a learning disability. Everything they do is about valuing and supporting people with a learning disability, and their families and carers.

Mencap’s vision is a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally, listened to and included.


Learning Disability England

Learning Disability England exists to make life better for and with people with Learning Disabilities and their families.


Primary and Acute Liaison Nurses

Primary Care Liaison Nurses and Acute Liaison Nurses can support people with a learning disability to access health services.

Please email england.learningdisabilitynetwork@nhs.net for your local contacts.


Best Practice Guidelines

The Best Practice Guidelines offer guidance for effective engagement of people with a learning disability in projects. The guidelines support the engagement of people with a learning disability in projects, ensuring they experience a positive and supportive experience. The guidelines were produced in partnership with Gateshead People.

There are also public involvement resources available which you may find useful.


LeDeR cancer report

LeDeR – The Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) Programme is a national programme aimed at making improvements to the lives of people with learning disabilities. Reviews of deaths are being carried out with a view to improve the standard and quality of care for people with learning disabilities. For more information about the LeDeR programme click here.

In 2018 a specific review, looked at all the reported cancer deaths, highlighting learning and recommending action. This review can be accessed by following the link below:

Learning into Action – Report on LeDeR Reviews Involving a Cancer Diagnosis