Three in four people with a learning disability receive NHS annual health check

Three-quarters of people with a learning disability aged 14 and over have received an annual health check two years ahead of an NHS Long Term Plan target.

People with a learning disability who often find it difficult to spot or communicate symptoms can get a full health MOT from their GP who can quickly diagnose and treat any health problems such as cancer, constipation, or cardiac disease before they escalate.

The news comes as the fifth annual learning disability review and action report are published. Most recent data shows that 97% of eligible reviews were completed within six months, a rise of a third compared to the previous year.

The NHS Long Term Plan set an ambition that by 2023/24, at least 75% of people aged 14 and over on the learning disability register receive an annual health check, in a drive to tackle health inequalities for people with a learning disability.

The latest data shows that the NHS has already hit this target two years ahead of time and at the same time as treating hundreds of thousands of patients with Covid-19, as 74% of eligible people with a learning disability over the age of 14 received an annual health check, following concerted efforts by GPs to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

Claire Murdoch, Mental Health Director for NHS England, said: ‘Every year, people with a learning disability die sooner than they should and many from potentially avoidable conditions, such as constipation or aspiration pneumonia.

‘Despite the pandemic, the NHS has ensured that three-quarters of people over the age of 14 with a learning disability have received their annual health check, two years ahead of the Long Term Plan target – the health MOT’s from local GPs are crucial in identifying and tackling major health conditions and preventable causes of early death.

‘This important report reminds us why improving the health of people with a learning disability is a priority for the NHS and it is vital we use this to make real and lasting change to help close the health inequality gap seen throughout society.’

black and gray stethoscope

The NHS is now urging those in secondary care to set up seven regional exemplar sites, to drive through health improvements alongside the annual health check process.

Seven Exemplars will trailblaze new ways of working to help make improvements to health and access to care, key priorities for the NHS. Their focus will include increasing the uptake and quality of annual health checks and the number of people with a learning disability who get their flu jab each year. Important lessons from trailblazers will be rolled out as good practice across the NHS.

This builds on the successful pilots launched last year in primary care, who have focused on ensuring that people with a learning disability from ethnic minority backgrounds and traveller communities receive their annual health check.

The news comes, as the NHS announced yesterday that Anne Longfield, the former children’s commissioner has been appointed as the new independent chair of the Learning Disability and Autism Children and Young People’s Steering Group. Anne will champion the rights of children and young people to ensure they get the support they need at the right time.

The NHS announced earlier this year that following consultation with stakeholders including bereaved families, people with a learning disability and autistic people, a new policy has been developed for LeDer.

This will include a new collaboration with King’s College London who will use their academic and quality improvement skills to support the NHS to tackle health inequalities for people with a learning disability and autistic people, this will be in collaboration with several academic partners including University of Central Lancashire and Kingston and St George’s University. King’s College London will also produce the annual report for LeDeR from next year.

Photo Credit – Hush Naidoo


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