Shropshire Council

Learning Disability and Autism (LD&A) Champions for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

24 March 2022 Last updated at 03:16

The NHS Long Term Plan committed to:

“Make sure that the whole NHS has an awareness of the needs of people with a learning disability and autistic people, working together to improve the way it cares, supports, listens to, works with and improves the health and wellbeing of them and their families.”

To ensure this happened a small amount of funding has been made available to local areas to create Learning Disability and Autism Champion roles.  In Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin two posts were created and are now active.  Introductions to the local LD&A Champions are provided below.  They are working closely with local organisations such as PACC, to understanding the challenges faced by individuals with a learning disability and /or autism and to raise awareness of the needs of this group throughout local services.

Introducing Janet:

Janet Cobb lives in South Shropshire and has a background in NHS learning disability nursing, NHS management and latterly national work as an independent consultant working with charities, NHS and Social Care bodies, families caring for a person with learning disabilities and citizens with learning disabilities.

Before coming to live in Shropshire Janet worked as health lead with the North West Training and Development Team (, established and ran the UK Health and Learning Disability Network now hosted by The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities (, worked as a regional advisor with NW SHA and NE SHA CHaMP (Child health and Maternity Partnership) working on the national transition support programme for disabled children and worked with the Valuing People team on various learning disability and health initiatives.

Janet also sat on the overview panel for the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities

Janet will focus on people with learning disabilities.


Introducing Eric:

Eric Heath lives on the Shropshire/Powys border with his partner. He is an autistic Expert by Experience with a grounding in local government, diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD and Dyspraxia. In 2004, Eric co-founded Autonomy, a Shropshire-based self-help and social group for autistic adults with his mother, later joining the Department of Health and Social Care as an Expert Advisor. He has continued to work strategically, as part of the NHSE/I Midlands Autism Workstream as well as with local authorities and the third sector, informing and contributing to the new ‘National Autism Strategy for Children, Young People and Adults’ and the NHSE/I ‘Long Term Plan’ and numerous other national, local and regional strategies and research projects.

Eric will focus on autism.


What do you do in your roles as LD&A champions?

We were appointed into these roles in November 2021 and have one year to make an impact.

Our job is to raise the profile of people with learning disabilities and autism in mainstream health and social care services as outlined in the NHSE/I Long Term Plan and the LGA and Association of Directors of Adult Services (ADASS) Outcomes and Improvement Framework which further identifies how Social Care and its partners can improve how they support autistic people and people with learning disabilities.

Why did you put yourself forward for the role?

We both want to make a difference to the lives of people with learning disability or autism across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and between us have a wealth of experience and lived experience to offer to others in services outside of specialist provision as well as knowledge informed from living within the area and issues faced.

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