The identification of people with learning disabilities within primary care is a requirement for GPs in the UK who receive additional income for maintaining registers of such as part of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF). If they opt to provide Directed Enhanced Services (DES), they must develop and maintain a register of patients with moderate or severe learning disabilities and offer annual health checks.
Researchers in Yorkshire in this study set out to describe the development of such a register in one UK general practice. They conducted a Read code search of the practice’s electronic medical records to identify patients with learning disabilities, confirming diagnoses by checking records with GP verification. They also cross-referenced their findings with the QOF register and the list of clients held by the local authority.
229 patients (1.5% of practice population) were identified by the Read code search as possibly having learning disabilities. Checking records and GP verification confirmed 64 had learning disabilities and 24 did not, but for 141, it remained unclear whether or not the patients had a learning disability Cross-referencing with the QOF register and local authority list revealed little overlap.
They conclude from this study that identifying learning disability and assessing its severity relying on Read code searches alone may result in under-detection and that further work is needed to define and develop strategies for identifying, cross-referencing and validating practice-based registers.
Compiling a register of patients with moderate or severe learning disabilities: experience at one United Kingdom general practice, Lodge K et al, in Mental Health in Family Medicine, 8, 1,. 29-37