The government is considering offering people with learning
difficulties an annual health check, a new report reveals.
A government document, which sets out how NHS services will be made
more responsive to patients through increased choice, states that
the Department of Health will “bring forward proposals” later this
year on providing the optional checks.
Research has shown that people with learning difficulties are less
likely than the rest of the population to undergo regular health
Rob Greig, national director of the Valuing People Support Team at
the DoH, said the proposal could improve people’s lives
substantially as long as it was used to underpin health action
planning and did not become simply a “pointless tick-box
He said such a move would also benefit social care providers as it
could help them identify previously undiagnosed health problems in
people with learning difficulties that could be causing challenging
or aggressive behaviour.
David Congdon, head of external relations at learning difficulty
charity Mencap, said his organisation supported the proposal in
principle, but added that the government must support it with
He said an annual health check was already a requirement for people
with learning difficulties who lived in residential care homes but
these did not always take place.
The government’s learning difficulty white paper Valuing People,
published in March 2001, stated that all people with a learning
difficulty should have a health action plan by June 2005.
This should include details on vision, hearing, nutrition,
emotional needs, medication taken and its side-effects, and records
of any screening tests. The plan should also be reviewed at
different stages of the person’s life.
It also said that all people with a learning difficulty should be
registered with a GP by June.
– Building on the Best: Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in
the NHS from