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GPs 'fail' learning disability patients

GPs 'can't be bothered' to treat patients with learning disabilities and fundamentally misunderstand their condition, the chair of a Government taskforce has claimed.

Michelle Chinery, co-chair of the learning disability taskforce, said she had written to the RCGP over alleged substandard and insensitive treatment of patients with mild, as well as severe, learning disabilities.

GP negotiators revealed last month they had refused to strike a deal on an enhanced service for the care of patients with learning disabilities because Ministers had offered such low pay rates.

Ms Chinery's letter cites cases where GPs have refused to see such patients at their practice for fear of upsetting other people in the waiting room and of GPs refusing to visit patients at home, referring them to out-of-hours providers or inappropriately sending ambulances.

Where GPs allowed patients with learning disabilities to come into surgeries, the letter alleges they would often talk to carers rather than the patient.

'GPs just can't be bothered,' she said. 'People with learning difficulties take long-er to treat. People with severe learning difficulties are the ones that really suffer,' she added.

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