Learning disability charity Mencap, in partnership with NHS England, has launched a new animation and online guides called Don’t Miss Out to raise awareness of the importance for people with a learning disability to be on their GP’s learning disability register.
Just 23 percent of people with a learning disability are registered as having a learning disability with their GP and just 44 percent receive an Annual Health Check. This is despite well documented evidence of the health inequalities experienced by people with a learning disability, with 1,200 avoidable deaths every year.
If people with a learning disability tell their GP’s they have a learning disability they are entitled to extra help. This can include:
Youssef Abidat has a learning disability. He said: "My GP phones me to remind me about my health check, because sometimes I forget. I’m happy with my health centre. I didn’t realise I was low on vitamin B12 until I had my Annual Health Check, so now I take vitamins to correct that. If I didn’t have the check I may have been ill and not realised it."
Rachel Ashcroft, Strategic Development Manager for Health at learning disability charity Mencap, said: "Visiting the GP can be incredibly difficult if you have a learning disability. Making appointments, understanding what the doctor is saying and explaining how you feel can be really hard. Being on the GP’s learning disability register can ensure healthcare is much more accessible and can result in better health outcomes for people with a learning disability. There are 1,200 avoidable deaths of people with a learning disability every year due to the health inequalities that people with a learning disability face. Access to better support, more time and annual health checks could play a crucial role in improving patient-doctor relationships and ensuring that people with a learning disability receive the healthcare and treatment they need."
Dr Matt Hoghton, GP at Clevedon Medical Group and North Somerset CCG learning disability clinical lead, said: "Doing the Annual Health Checks allows me to build a long-term, trusting relationship with patients who have a learning disability. This means I can do the necessary examinations, such as blood tests. At the same time, I learn more about the person and can make reasonable adjustments to their care."
REHACARE.com; Source: Mencap