Dr Jean O’Hara

National Clinical Director for Learning Disabilities, NHS England


Dr O’Hara is consultant psychiatrist in learning (intellectual) disabilities at South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, and was clinical director for the Behavioural & Developmental Psychiatry CAG from 2008 – 2017. In January 2017, Dr O’Hara joined NHS England as National Clinical Director for learning disabilities.

Originally from Hong Kong, she qualified from the London Hospital Medical College in 1983 and took up her first consultant post in 1992. Dr O’Hara is passionate about improving quality of care and developing future generations of clinicians. Throughout her career, she has held formal leadership and clinical management roles within the NHS, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal Society of Medicine and the ‘London Deanery’. Dr O’Hara is visiting senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and chair of the editorial board for ‘Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities’ (Emerald Publishing) which integrates research into clinical practice.

Her clinical and academic interests have focussed on ethnicity and diversity, parents with learning disabilities, inequalities in healthcare and health outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, particularly those with learning disabilities and mental illness. Her books ‘Adults with Learning Disabilities: a practical approach for health professionals’ (Wiley & Sons, 1997) was the first published handbook for primary care, and ‘Intellectual Disabilities and Ill-Health: a review of the evidence’ (CUP 2010), the first comprehensive review of mental and physical disorders in people with learning disabilities. Dr O’Hara’s memories of her Hong Kong childhood, ‘Through the Dragon’s Gate’ is available in paperback.​