GPs ‘pass the buck’ when treating people with learning difficulties

The co-chairperson of the Learning Disability Task Force has
slammed GPs’ treatment of people with learning difficulties.

Michelle Chinery said that she was so worried about GPs’ attitudes
towards people with learning difficulties that she had written a
letter to the Royal College of General Practitioners listing her

Chinery explained that problems include GPs ignoring people with
learning difficulties and only talking to their carers. There are
also cases where GPs have offered home visits rather than treatment
in their surgeries because of fears that people with learning
difficulties will upset other people in the waiting room.

Chinery said that this was odd considering the problems she had
experienced in getting GPs to come to her home. She said they often
refused and referred her to an out-of-hours GP, who would pass the
buck back to her GP. She added that GPs sometimes called out
ambulances as an alternative to going out to patients, and that she
had experience of out-of-hours GPs suggesting medication for her by
telephone to avoid coming out.

Chinery said new measures were needed to improve the services
offered by GPs, including allocating longer appointments and
providing information in an accessible format.

She also called for guidance to be issued to GPs on how to work
with people with learning difficulties to improve the situation.

Meanwhile, Simone Aspis of London People First learning
difficulties group, called the government’s partnership boards “a
bit of a joke”.

“I question the power they have,” she told delegates at a
discussion about the government scheme, which aims to bring
together professionals and clients to review service delivery. She
said if the initiative is to work, people with learning
difficulties who attend meetings should be paid for doing so.

However, members of the Gateshead Partnership Board said that
people with learning difficulties are “included right from the
beginning” of the board’s agenda.

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