In response to today’s publication of Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities statistics for 2017-18, Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at Mencap, says:

“It is shocking that 4 in every 9 people (45 per cent) with a learning disability in England are missing out on receiving their annual learning disability health check. We already know that 1,200 a year with a learning disability are dying unnecessarily because of a lack of appropriate healthcare. These health checks not only provide an opportunity for earlier diagnoses and interventions for health problems, but also enable hospital staff to identify people’s disability and provide the reasonable adjustments which could save their lives.

“The check, which should be offered to everyone with a learning disability aged 14 and older by their GP, is an important opportunity to regularly assess and monitor the overall health and wellbeing of patients and develop a health action plan.

“Importantly, by attending these appointments, a person’s learning disability and needs can be registered on NHS systems. Without this, if someone goes to hospital, staff there may not be aware of these, and so fail to tailor their care accordingly. Systematic flagging of people’s needs simply has to become the norm for all. 

“In order for NHS England to reach the target set out in this month’s NHS Long Term Plan, of 75 per cent uptake of these health checks, we need to urgently see a targeted campaign focusing on those who are more likely to currently miss out on checks – those between 14 and 24. The upcoming Implementation Plan must show details of how they will engage with schools and families to ensure that no one misses out.

“We are also extremely concerned about the inequality in cervical screening uptake for people with a learning disability.  Less than a third (31 per cent) of eligible women with a learning disability are having a smear test, compared to 73 per cent of women without a learning disability, leaving them at risk of undetected cervical cancer. This Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, we are urging women with a learning disability, and those who support them, to ask their GP about a smear test.”

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For more information about learning disability annual health checks, visit: www.mencap.org.uk/advice-and-support/health/dont-miss-out/dont-miss-out-annual-health-checks 

To hear from people with a learning disability explaining their experiences of the annual learning disability health check, watch this video: www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=26&v=z8407Uzys3E

And for more information about cervical screening for women with a learning disability, including Easy Read information, go to Jo’s Trust: www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer/cervical-screening/cervical-screening-learning-disability