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MPs concerned with level of GP access for patients with learning disabilities

An influential committee of MPs has raised concern about GP access for patients with learning disabilities, with GP leaders pointing to 'unsustainable workloads'.

The Public Accounts Committee's report into local support available for people with learning disabilities found that only 23% are on a GP list and flagged as having a learning disability.

It also found there was 'considerable local variation' in the number of flagged patients who have a recommended annual health check, 'from 6.3% in East Sussex to 59% in Hackney', east London.

The GPC said this comes as GP practices have been impeded by workload pressures from taking on the learning disabilities DES.

The PAC report said: 'People with a learning disability who live in the community have patchy access to health care and limited opportunities to participate in the community, for example, by having a job.

'Access to GPs can act as a gateway to other health care services so we are very concerned that only 23% of people with a learning disability are on GP registers and flagged as having a learning disability.'

GPs are incentivised to carry out annual health checks in patients with learning disabilities, but GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said that 'as practice workload has reached unsustainable levels they’ve had to make difficult decisions and in some cases have not had the capacity to take on the additional work of this enhanced service'.

He added: 'This is one of the reasons we negotiated a big increase in the fee for each medical and we would hope that this will mean more practices will be able to consider engaging with the DES and consequently more patients with disabilities will take up an offer of a medical review in the coming year.'

The 2017/18 GP contract, which came into effect 1 April, saw the sum paid per health check under the learning disabilities DES increased from £116 to £140.

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