GPs get training to complete annual health check for people with learning disabilities

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TRAINING to help GPs see more patients with learning disabilities has been a success.

Southern Health NHS Trust and Solent NHS Trust have been working with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to improve access people with disabilities have to their surgery.

We are working with partner organisations to improve primary healthcare services for people with a learning disability

Amy George

It comes as many experience poorer health with difficulties in recognising illness, communicating their needs and using health services.

To lessen the inequality, all of the GPs in areas covered by Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire CCGs have been trained to ensure people with disabilities are attending free annual health checks.

It is hoped the checks will pick up early detection of any uncovered illnesses.

In Fareham, one practice had only completed six per cent of the checks but since having the training, that number increased to 100 per cent. The national target is 75 per cent.

Amy George, health facilitator for South East Hampshire at Southern Health, said: ‘People with a learning disability are entitled to have an annual health check and GP surgeries are working hard to improve their uptake.

‘We are working with partner organisations to improve primary healthcare services for people with a learning disability and we have a number of joint initiatives that are starting to make a real difference.’

The CCGs want to encourage people with learning disabilities and their carers to ensure they are registered to have the annual checks.

During the checks, the GP will look at heart rate, blood pressure, they will ask questions about their lifestyle and mental health, check for epilepsy and chronic illnesses and do a review of any arrangements with other health professionals.

Dr Andrew Holden, the primary care lead for South Eastern Hampshire and Fareham & Gosport CCGs, said: ‘Great strides have been made by many practices in terms of providing health checks to patients with learning disabilities. But of course we are always striving to improve even further.

‘The first step is to ensure that patients with a learning disability are on the LD Register, which isn’t always the case.’