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MPs debate learning disability healthcare
Friday 16 July 2010
The care services minister focused on annual health checks during a Westminster debate
At a Westminster debate on Wednesday 14 July, MPs were told that nearly half of all doctors and a third of nurses admit that people with a learning disability receive a poorer standard of healthcare than the rest of the population.
The figures came from research conducted as part of Mencap's 'Getting it right' campaign, which calls for equal healthcare for people with a learning disability.
Leading the debate was Tom Clarke MP. He highlighted a number of reports, which he said form "a damning indictment of what many people with learning disabilities experience in the NHS". The reports included Sir Jonathan Michael's independent inquiry, Healthcare for All.
Care services minister Paul Burstow said that the debate highlighted the importance of annual health checks for people with a learning disability. Last year just over one in five people with a learning disability received an annual health check. Mr Burstow was encouraged that this figure has more than doubled in the last 12 months.
"However, that is clearly not good enough," he said. "It means that three in five people with learning disabilities still do not receive an annual check. As a government, we are determined to push the process forward".
Beverley Dawkins, Mencap's national officer for profound and multiple learning disabilities, said she was encouraged by the minister's comments. "These checks can mean the difference between life and death for some patients, ensuring serious illnesses are caught early and treatment is more effective."
Getting it right
Mr Burstow also paid tribute to Mencap's 'Getting it right' charter – a checklist of reasonable adjustments that healthcare professionals are asked to adhere to when treating a person with a learning disability.
"I welcome and support the principles set out in Mencap's 'Getting it right' charter, and we will try to collaborate with the charity to ensure that we address and take forward the additional challenges," he said. "I want to work very closely with Mencap to ensure that we translate the words on the page into real changes in hearts, minds and practice across the country."
Find out more about Mencap's 'Getting it right' campaign
Watch the Westminster debate