Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, comments:

We broadly welcome the announcement today by the Department of Health regarding the new GP Contract.  In particular we welcome that care homes will have a dedicated telephone line to GPs. GPs will also regularly review emergency admissions from care homes to avoid unnecessary call-outs in future and will monitor and report on the quality of out-of-hours care.

Recent research has shown that 1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably within the health service every year.  This is the equivalent of three people dying needlessly every single day.  A third (37%) of deaths of people with a learning disability are due to them not getting the right health care. Patients with a learning disability experience delays in diagnosis, delays in treatment, lack of basic care and poor communication by health professionals. This is unacceptable.

We are encouraged by Government measures to try and address this problem. However, it is unclear at this time, how these specific measures will impact on the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.  We will continue to engage with the Department of Health to ensure that people with a learning disability get the high quality health care they deserve.

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For more information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or for a case study, contact the Mencap Press Office on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.

Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.