NHS research has shown that patients with learning disabilities in England are missing out on essential health checks including cancer screening, blood pressure checks and mental health assessments. The report observed and compared the activities of patients both with and without learning disabilities from GP practices across the UK. NHS guidelines recommend that people who have learning disabilities should receive a general health check up and medicine review at least once a year, which means that these latest statistics give cause for concern.


Don’t Miss Out On Important Health Checks

Studies show that people with learning disabilities often experience more physical and mental health conditions than others. However this does not need to be the case and can be avoided, in many cases, by regular health checks.

The NHS offers an Annual Health Check scheme for people aged 14 or above with learning disabilities who may be vulnerable to physical or mental health issues. If you or someone you care for has a learning disability, you may benefit from finding out more about the extra support and health checks on offer. This information pack compiled by Mencap, has plenty of helpful advice. The British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) also has plenty of resources and information about out of hours services.

Learning disabilities can make it difficult for patients to look after themselves which is why it is so important to attend annual health checks. If you are unsure whether you or a loved one falls into this at-risk category, you can contact your local authority adult social services department to arrange an assessment which will be followed up with ongoing advice.

The three main health checks which the NHS are most concerned those with learning disabilities are missing out on include mental health assessments, cancer screening and blood pressure checks. Here’s a bit more info on where to get these in the Richmond area.


Mental Health Assessments

Some people mistakenly believe that it is inevitable for people with learning disabilities to suffer from mental health conditions. However, if you are concerned about your mental wellbeing, you can arrange a check up with the Kingston and Richmond Assessment Team. This specialist service provides assessments and treatment for people between the ages of 18 and 75 who may be suffering from mental illnesses including psychosis, neurosis, anxiety and personality disorders. Other, more specific services can be found in this extensive directory of mental health services in the borough of Richmond.


Cancer Screening

Only around 50% of women with learning disabilities in England have had breast cancer screening, compared to 70% of women overall. The South West London Breast Screening Service is part of the NHS nationwide breast screening programme. This service provides screening for women aged 50 and over who are based in and around Richmond. As early detection is the most effective way to deal with breast cancer, it is important to make use of this free service.

All women between the ages of 25 and 49 are encouraged to arrange a cervical cancer screening once every three years and those aged 50 to 65 are invited to do so once every five years. However, there are some issues which stand in the way of women with learning disabilities from arranging these potentially life-saving health checks. Appointments for cervical cancer screening can be arranged through your GP or with some of the Sexual Health Clinics based in Richmond, all of which are listed on this page.


Blood Pressure Checks

A blood pressure check is a quick and simple way to find out if your blood pressure is too high or too low. These tests are important as blood pressure irregularities can lead to serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes. The fact that such a low number of adults with learning disabilities are arranging annual blood pressure checks is extremely concerning. Trained pharmacists are able to test blood pressure levels in a private consulting room and will offer advice on support on how to manage blood pressure levels. You can arrange an appointment with your local Lloyds Pharmacy or search for other pharmacy services near you.