People with learning difficulties could be given annual health check

The government is actively considering offering people with
learning difficulties an annual health check, a new report has
revealed, writes Amy Taylor.

Research has shown that people with learning difficulties are
less likely to receive regular health checks than the rest of the

The government strategy document, which sets out how NHS
services will be made more responsive to patients through increased
choice, said the Department of Health will “bring forward
proposals” on providing optional annual health checks for people
with learning difficulties during 2004.

Rob Greig, national director of the Valuing People Support Team,
said the proposal could really improve people’s lives if it is
developed and implemented to underpin health action planning and
doesn’t become a ‘pointless tick box exercise’

“It will also be really beneficial to local authorities and
independent providers because it could help them to identify
undiagnosed health problems that challenge social care providers,”
he added.

David Congdon head of external relations at learning disability
charity Mencap said that his organisation supported the proposal in
principle but that government must back it up with funding.

He added that an annual health check is already a requirement
for people in learning difficulties living in residential care
homes, but that they do not always take place.

The Valuing People white paper published in 2001 said that all
people with a learning disability should have a ‘health action
plan’ by June 2005. This will include details on: vision, hearing,
nutrition, emotional needs, medication taken, side effects, and
records of any screening tests. This will be reviewed at different
stages in people’s lives.

The white paper also said that all people with a learning
difficulty should be registered with a GP by June 2004.

‘Building on the Best; Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in the

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