My name is Surekha, I live in Bradford and I have a learning disability . My family and I are from British Indian background. I volunteer and am the chairperson at Bradford People First.

My GP told me it would be good for me to be on the learning disability register as it would help them to get my healthcare right. For me, I think the register makes sure that I can have more equal healthcare.

Although more training is needed for healthcare professionals, by talking with me my doctor understands learning disability better than she used to. I say what I need from her and then she makes those things happen. 

For example, If I don’t understand something I ask her to explain it in a way that I can understand. I mean, who really understand medical jargon anyway? It’s all just really big words!

Being on the learning disability register means that I get an annual health check . This is important to me. At the health check, the Doctor performs examines you to make sure you are ok. It is kind of like a mechanic doing an MOT on a car!

Two women walking arm in arm outside of a hospital with an ambulance behind them

Surekha and her supporter (left) on a visit to a hospital

During Covid I did a blog about people with a learning disability and being able to have the vaccines early. This is another benefit of being on the register. I was the first in my family to have it!

I think that sometimes people are not on the register because they do not know about it. I also think that people from Black and Asian communities can be scared of going to the doctors or not sure about saying is what is wrong with them.

This might be because of a language barrier or because they don’t know what is available to them. Mencap worked with groups including Bradford People First and we created resources in different languages about the learning disability register. These are really good but we need to make sure they get to the right people. Not everyone uses the internet or knows to look for them.

Sometimes, I think the doctors need to do more to show people from Black and Asian communities that they are there to help and they can be trusted. Trust is a big thing for many people and if people can have a good relationship with their doctor it will lead to more equal healthcare.

If doctors can build a good relationship with parents and families this can also build trust. Lots of people still need support from families and its important that the family trusts the GP.

There needs to be more training and education about the learning disability register and about learning disability in general, but I think there also needs to be better training for doctors about how to reach and work with black and Asian people too.

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Important! Join the learning disability register

A really important thing to do is make sure you are on the learning disability register.

This register gives you extra help at the doctors.

You’ll get invited to visit the doctor’s each year for a health check and get better access to vaccines. 

Find out more