This site is intended for health professionals only


CPD: Supporting patients with learning disabilities during the pandemic


Patient with learning disability


Learning Objectives

  • To learn how Covid-19 specifically affects people with learning disability
  • To understand ways to improve healthcare access for people with learning disabilities
  • To understand how to make health checks easier for patients with learning disabilities

Dr Claire Davies is a GP in East London

Patients with learning disabilities are a vulnerable group whose inequalities have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. They form a diverse cohort whose needs vary in severity, but those who meet the diagnostic criteria have significant impairments in intellectual and adaptive functioning that begins prior to adulthood.  

People with learning disabilities experience a range of adverse health outcomes in life. Data from the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) found a median reduction in life expectancy of between 23 and 27 years, with 38% dying from an avoidable cause. Common causes of death include sepsis, aspiration pneumonia, cardiovascular disease and epilepsy. They are also at increased risk of obesity, epilepsy, asthma and mental health problems and are less likely to take up cancer screening or flu vaccines.

Analysis by Public Health England (PHE) estimated that people with learning disabilities were four times as likely to die of Covid than the general population, with black and minority ethnic groups being over-represented. Those with Down syndrome are at particularly high risk, and have been added to the Government’s clinically extremely vulnerable group.

There are a number of ways you can support patients with learning disabilities both through routine care and through annual health checks.

Click here to read the full article and download your certificate logging 1 CPD hour towards revalidation

Not a Pulse Learning member? Click here to join and gain access to over 400 CPD modules