Study finds poor progress towards implementing health checks for people with learning disabilities


Following our posting of the systematic review into the efficacy of annual health checks for people with learning disabilities, this study reports on a project that was run in 2010 by a researcher working with a self-advocacy group in Oxfordshire. The team looked at the implementation of Annual Health Checks for people with learning disabilities in that county.

In 2009-10, they found that only 26.1% of checks had been completed, whereas the national average was 41%

Despite the fact that the requirement to carry out annual health checks has been in place for more than three years and that funding was made available to support GP practices to carry them out, the findings of the study confirm the slow progress towards fully implementing such checks.

The study found a number of reasons provided for such slow progress, including uncertainty over eligibility; limited awareness in GP practices about duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to facilitate access; limited awareness amongst carers and people with learning disabilities about annual health checks and their benefits. The authors also report that in some cases they found some scepticism that health checks were either necessary or beneficial, despite growing evidence that  health checks were effective in identifying unidentified conditions and led to targeted actions to address needs.

An investigation into the implementation of Annual Health Checks for people with intellectual disabilities, Walmsley J, in Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 15, 3, 157-166


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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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