Mencap demands awareness training for staff in learning difficulties field.

    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
    factor.

    “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
    assumption”.

    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
    achieve.

    The charity has come up with a number of potential solutions for
    short-break services, including increased use of direct
    payments.

    l Treat Me Right from www.mencap.org after 21 June.

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