People with learning disability: Make sure to have your annual health check

People with learning disability: Make sure to have your annual health check

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is urging all people with a learning disability to make sure they have their annual health check.

Anyone over the age of 14 with a learning disability can have a free annual health check. Typically, people will be invited by their GP, but they or their carer can also book themselves, at any time.

Nurse consultant Simon Jones said:

“We are concerned that some people think that, because of the pandemic, they don’t want to bother their GP. However, it is at times like this the health checks are doubly important for keeping people with a learning disability safe.”

The benefits of the annual health check are significant.

People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than other people.  An annual health check can improve their health by spotting problems earlier.

We know from research that unfortunately, the average age at death for people with a learning disability is 23 years younger for men and 27 years younger for women than the wider population. We also know that 41 per cent of adult deaths were from treatable medical causes and 24 per cent were from preventable medical causes.

Clinical evidence shows that annual health checks can identify undetected health conditions early, ensure the appropriateness of ongoing treatments and promote health, for example through screening and immunisation.

People with a learning disability can sometimes find it hard to know when they are unwell, or to tell someone about it.  A health check once a year gives people time to talk about anything that is worrying them and means they can get used to going to visit the doctor.

Useful resources

We have collated a number resources to help you prepare for the annual health check, available in our Useful stuff library and for your convenience here.

Annual health check – Easy Read checklist

Preparing for the annual health check

Annual health check – Easy Read from Mencap

Don’t miss out – Join the learning disability register from Mencap

Toolkit for health checks for people with a learning disability from the Royal College of General Practitioners

Published: 17 January 2022