Partnering for inclusion: improving disabled people’s experiences of health and care services

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Why we're doing this

The King’s Fund and Disability Rights UK are working together on a project to explore what good partnership working between disabled people and health and care systems looks like. For a long time it’s been clear that disabled people in England face exclusions and inequalities in access to health and care provision, as well as to the wider services needed to maintain and improve general health and wellbeing. These kinds of poor experiences are often linked to a lack of meaningful engagement and coproduction with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) when services are designed, delivered or evaluated.

While health and care organisations, voluntary and community organisations and DPOs have been working to improve disabled people’s involvement at various levels, there are still frequent barriers to meaningful participation. The Covid-19 pandemic further highlighted these issues, as disabled people experienced disproportionate negative impacts on wellbeing and access to health and care services, including reduced access to non-Covid related health care and treatment and inadequate information about services and other general and personal health and care information.

Recent developments in integrated care, for example the advent of integrated care systems and new ways of working at different scales, such as ‘place’ and neighbourhood, present an opportunity to explore how disabled people and DPOs are currently involved in planning services to meet their needs and what might need to change. For example, ensuring that the involvement of disabled people and DPOs is given specific consideration as new processes are set up, such as the new integrated care boards being established to plan and commission services for integrated care systems. This has implications for how integrating care can tackle health inequalities and what a good experience of integrated care might look like for disabled people, and has the potential to reduce the risk of poor experiences and barriers to accessing health and care.

What we're doing

A key principle of this project is working alongside people with lived experience. The King’s Fund and Disability Rights UK are convening an advisory group to provide advice, expertise and challenge on the design and outputs of the project. We will be conducting a desk review into recent and current work in this space, and engaging with disabled people, representatives from DPOs and key health and care system stakeholders to develop an understanding of what good partnership working between the health and care system and disabled people should look like. The King’s Fund and Disability Rights UK will then bring together representatives from disabled people’s organisations and health and care system organisations to consider the implications of our findings for current and future ways of working and to co-produce practical ideas about ways forward to increase disabled people’s engagement and involvement.

Key milestones

We aim to put out an interim blog discussing our progress in Autumn 2021, and we hope to publish our final findings in Spring 2022.

Project team


Deborah Fenney

Senior Researcher


Emily Lennon



Dan Wellings

Senior Fellow


Clare Sutherland

Project Delivery Officer