Praise for success of health check scheme in learning disability week

Date published: 21 June 2022

Local health leaders are celebrating the success of the annual learning disability health check scheme after almost 80% of eligible people in the borough had a health check in the last twelve months.

Anyone with a learning disability aged 14 and above who is on their GP’s learning disability register is entitled to a free health check once a year. Health checks are particularly important for people with learning disabilities who often experience poorer health outcomes than the general population.

Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG (NHS HMR CCG) came top of the league table in Greater Manchester for the number of health checks carried out in 2021/2022 and ranked 21 out of 106 Clinical Commissioning Groups across England, achieving 79% of its target compared to the national target of 75%.

The news comes during Learning Disability Week (20-26 June) which is an annual campaign led by learning disability charity, Mencap, to raise awareness of what life is like for people with a learning disability.

This year's campaign will focus on the theme of loneliness and how people with learning disabilities are beginning to reconnect again after the Covid-19 pandemic.

A recent report from Mencap showed that people with learning disabilities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with loneliness being a particular issue.

According to research by Mencap over 80% of people with a learning disability are experiencing ‘crippling’ loneliness due to the continued impact of the pandemic, with 1 in 10 people saying they leave the house just once a week or less.

Alison Kelly, Chief Nurse and Associate Director Quality and Safeguarding at NHS HMR CCG, said: “In Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, we are passionate about promoting the importance of health checks for people with learning disabilities and I am proud of our achievements over the last twelve months, not least because of the additional complications posed by the pandemic.

“As highlighted by the research from Mencap, health inequalities for people with learning disabilities are still very much an issue. Health checks are just one part of our wider work to improve the health outcomes for people with learning disabilities living in our borough which form part of the national LeDeR (Learning from lives and deaths – people with a learning disability and autistic people) programme.

“Whilst it’s good news that almost 80% of eligible residents had a learning disability health check in the last year, we want to ensure that everyone who is eligible for a health check comes forward every year. Our aim is to build on our success by continuing to improve the quality of health checks to focus on some of the main issues affecting people with learning disabilities such as mental health, respiratory illness, maintaining a healthy weight and barriers to cancer screening.”

Dr Imran Ghafoor, NHS HMR CCG clinical strategic lead for Mental Health and Safeguarding, added: “The last two years have been particularly challenging for GPs. Despite this, GPs across the borough have worked hard to ensure that patients with learning disabilities had their annual health check. Regular health checks for people with learning disabilities are important as we know that they can significantly improve the health outcomes for people with learning disabilities and help to identify health concerns before they become more serious.

“We would encourage anyone with a learning disability who hasn’t yet had their annual health check, or who is worried about their mental or physical health, to contact their GP practice for further advice and support.”

You can find out more about learning disability health checks on the NHS website here.

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