17 October 2018.
People with learning disabilities in Coventry and Warwickshire are still not having annual health checks with GPs and Grapevine’s H-Team is campaigning to change this on a national level.
They generally have poorer physical and mental health and a significantly lower life expectancy than the general population. But it doesn’t need to be this way. Many premature deaths could be avoided if health conditions were diagnosed promptly and treated effectively.
Annual health checks should be offered to patients registered with participating GPs who are aged 14 and over and who are known to the local authority social services department primarily because of their disability.
General health is discussed in detail during the check and the interaction is used to detect and treat unmet health needs and help manage any pre-existing ones.
The low uptake of annual health checks is a national problem and that is why H-Team project workers Sam and Kyla took a trip to London this week to join an action group workshop of professionals, including many from NHS England. The meeting was initiated by the team’s desire to turn their local frustrations into change at a national, system level.
NHS England’s clinical lead for the ‘Learning Disability Transforming Care Programme’, Kevin Elliott, is leading the action group to start making real changes to the way GPs promote annual health checks and to raise their awareness of their significance in saving lives – from empowering communities to new regulations to training to IT.
Sam says: “We deliver annual health check sessions to our peers, generating an awareness of what they are, their importance and informing them of their rights.
“We have also worked closely with the Central England Law Centre in unpicking the law around health checks and people’s entitlements and rights – spreading this knowledge to parents and carers; giving them tools to help them request the service for the person they care for.
“We have been working with our local hospitals and now our Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to develop and deliver awareness sessions to health professionals so they are confident in engaging with a person with a learning disability when they come into their GP practice or hospital.
“And now we have taken the first step in taking our campaign to a national level, attending the workshop to take action on how we can improve this issue from a national perspective.”
Health is everybody’s responsibility and it is time to make progress on removing some of the inequalities that get in the way of access to the health care that is available for all.
The action group next meets in early December for updates and a focus on training and a competency framework.
Shout out for help!
If you or someone you know has a learning disability and is interested in joining the H-Team to help make your peers more aware of taking care of their health and wellbeing, please get in touch!
Call Sam on 02476 631040 extension 112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org