Further to the Down Syndrome Bill going through the UK Parliament, what steps is the Welsh Government taking to ensure the rights of Down syndrome people are recognised in Wales?
In Wales we already have existing legislation including the NHS (Wales) Act 2006, the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 and the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal Wales Act (2018) which deliver the aims of the proposed Down’s Syndrome Bill.
Throughout the pandemic, we have worked with healthcare professionals and service providers to ensure the needs and rights of people with Down’s Syndrome are recognised and addressed. This includes ensuring people with Down’s Syndrome were identified within the shielding group and prioritised in the vaccine response programme.
We provide funding to the Down’s Syndrome Association to undertake Wales-focused activity via the Social Services Third Sector grant scheme.
We continue to work closely with the learning disability Ministerial Advisory Group (which includes members with learning disabilities and representation from the Down’s Syndrome Association) and third sector partners to deliver improved outcomes for people with Down’s Syndrome and learning disabilities through the development of a new learning disability action plan for this term.
The learning disability action plan will be published in spring 2022 and will deliver the legacy actions from the Improving Lives programme – which was successfully completed in March – and set out the priorities for action identified by stakeholders to support people with learning disabilities, their families and carers to lead healthy, happy and productive lives as we emerge from the pandemic.
The First Minister has established a Minister-led taskforce to take forward work to address the findings highlighted by the Locked Out: Liberating disabled people’s lives and rights in Wales beyond COVID-19 report and to oversee the implementation of actions, in conjunction with partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors.
The inaugural meeting took place on 18 November. The Terms of Reference, membership and work plan are being finalised.