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Independent inquiry calls for learning disabilities DES

By Lilian Anekwe

A new report has called on the Department of Health to urge all PCTs to pay GPs to offer health checks to patients with learning disabilities.

An independent inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities recommends the DH directs PCTs to commission enhanced services, ‘to ensure adults and children with learning disabilities receive appropriate treatment in primary healthcare in England.'

The financial incentives offered by the enhanced service should be used to offer annual health checks for patients with learning disabilities.

Evaluations of similar initiatives in Wales have found health checks are effective in identifying patients with untreated diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, thyroid disorders, asthma and mental illnesses.

The report finds currently provisions – the requirement in the quality and outcomes framework for GPs to keep a register of patients with learning disabilities – do not go far enough, and suggests GPs only record patients with the severest problems.

‘GP seem to be recording only those at the most severe end of the spectrum who are easiest to identify and people with mild to moderate learning disabilities do not appear to be being included', it finds.

Introducing a DES for people with learning disabilities would provide better and more uniform care, the report argues.

‘A DES for health care for people with learning disabilities would ensure that responsibilities at local level were clear in relation to primary care services and would establish a single point of contact for all those seeking information and support.'

In response to the enquiry, Professor Steve Field, chairman of the RCGP, said: ‘This is an important report which highlights the problems that people that have learning disabilities face when accessing healthcare.

‘The College agrees that more work still needs to be done at a local level to ensure the health needs of the estimated 1.5 million people in the UK with learning disabilities are being met.'

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