Health care staff should be better trained to deal with people with
learning difficulties, Mencap will urge this month.
In a report out next week, the charity will warn that people with
learning difficulties do not have equal access to health care. Lack
of training among health professionals is a contributing
“Staff should receive general disability awareness training so that
they have the opportunity to examine their attitudes and values
towards people with a learning disability,” the report says.
Last week it emerged that the Department of Health had failed to
meet its target of registering all people with a learning
difficulty with a GP by June 2004, as set out in the Valuing People
white paper .
The study, part of Mencap’s Treat Me Right campaign, says this
group still has more health problems than the rest of the
population and people are more likely to die before 50.
Many families also report that some doctors think their children’s
health problems are a result of their learning difficulties and
that little can be done. Mencap describes this as a “dangerous
The charity calls for people with learning difficulties to have
access to longer and more flexible doctor appointments and for them
to be offered annual health checks. Hospitals should also fulfil
their legal duty of care and provide appropriate levels of support.
Any premature deaths should be subject to an inquiry.
The carers of people with learning difficulties are also missing
out, the charity claims. A consultation on short-term breaks finds
that 85 per cent of carers would like a minimum standard guarantee
spelling out their entitlement to support.
More than one-third of carers want an emergency service to allow
them to take breaks at short notice. However, many local
authorities said flexibility was something they struggled most to
The charity has come up with a number of potential solutions for
short-break services, including increased use of direct
l Treat Me Right from www.mencap.org after 21 June.