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NHS Digital. Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities: 2017-18. Health and Social Care Information Centre. 2019. (accessed 26 July 2021)

Improving health outcomes for people with learning disabilities

02 August 2021
Volume 32 · Issue 8


People with learning disabilities should have an annual health check. Kelly Nickalls looks at how a team in Kent have improved uptake in their patients

People with a learning disability have been shown to have poorer health and a lower life expectancy than the general population, with life expectancy gaps of 18 years in females and 14 years in males (NHS Digital, 2019), despite annual health checks that were introduced for all people with a learning disability aged over 14 years to try to tackle this inequality. Evidence suggests annual health checks are an effective way to identify previously unrecognised health needs, including those associated with life-threatening illnesses.

However, uptake of health checks has been lower than hoped. Nationally, the annual health check target for adults with learning disabilities is 75%. Statistics from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, show that only 42.9% of adults with learning disabilities had completed their annual health check.

A project led by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust aimed to address this by increasing the number of annual health checks carried out with people with a learning disability over 12 weeks. The project team worked with six general practices across Kent.

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