Royal College of Nursing Representing nurses and nursing, promoting excellence in practice, shaping health policies

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Our work

How we represent forum members

  • Promoting best practice in learning disability nursing
  • Leading the development of learning disability nursing practice
  • Promoting the nature, scope and value of learning disability nursing
  • Influencing changes in learning disability nursing that will benefit both patients and nurses

My role as a registered learning disabilities nurse

Ian Unitt talks about his role as a registered learning disabilities nurse. Watch the video.

Our strategy

  • Working locally and nationally.
  • Linking with like-minded agencies.
  • Promoting evidence based practice.
  • Producing resources to influence practice.
  • Hosting events that promote good practice.

What we are currently working on

We would like to update you on our work in relation to a 2019 RCN Congress resolution debate on the human rights of people who have a learning disability and/ or autism.

The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the United Kingdom is entitled to, including people with a learning disability and autism. However, we continue to see evidence of continued denial of people’s human rights. Whether this is abusive practices such as Whorlton Hall Hospital or cases of premature mortality arising from diagnostic overshadowing and denial of reasonable adjustments, there is a need for decisive action to prevent further incidents.   

Last year we celebrated 100 years of learning disability nursing, where we heard of fantastic interventions from across the UK to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism. However, while the last century has resulted in significant changes in the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism, for many the denial of human rights is a common and daily occurrence.  Many neglectful actions that deny human rights do not make the news and as a result there is still a need for further action. 

At RCN Congress in 2019, Resolution E29 stated:

‘That RCN Congress calls upon the RCN Council to lobby government organisations across the UK to take urgent action that safeguards the human rights of people with learning disabilities and autism.’   

We believe it is important for nurses to be leading on human rights and calling upon others to address this issue.

To take this resolution forward, the RCN Learning Disability Nursing Forum has arranged a special summit to ‘respect, protect and fulfill’ our commitment to human rights. This summit is a targeted event, where selected individuals from across the UK, are invited to consider how they can support the RCN’s resolution and what action needs to be taken to safeguard this highly vulnerable group.

If you would like to discuss this work in more detail please contact: or

Recent activity

  • Production of an animation to attract young people to a career as a learning disability nurse.
  • Production of a suite of videos about becoming a learning disability nurse.
  • Celebrating 100 years of Learning Disability Nursing with a series of national events throughout 2019.

Leading, collaborating, influencing

The RCN and its forums are invited to participate in many cross working and multidisciplinary workstreams. Below are a selection of some of the activities that members of the Learning Disability Nursing Forum are involved in on your behalf.


The RCN is the voice of nursing, and is invited to contribute to many consultations. These are some of the recent consultations that the Learning Disability Nursing Forum has been involved in.

Get involved

Find out more about how to get involved in developing NICE and SIGN guidance

Page last updated - 18/04/2021