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New health checks for people with learning disabilities

Specialist nurses must play major role in provision, says RCN, as ministers in Scotland announce funding to improve healthcare access for high-risk group, in line with the rest of the UK
Nurse talks to man with a learning disability during a health check

Specialist nurses must play major role in provision, says RCN, as ministers in Scotland announce funding to improve healthcare access for high-risk group, in line with the rest of the UK

Annual health checks for people with learning disabilities are to be introduced in Scotland, bringing provision into line with the rest of the UK.

The service, backed by £2 million funding for health boards, aims to reduce health inequalities and ensure individuals’ health issues are identified and treated as quickly as possible. The funding will be made available to health boards in June.

Learning disability nurses must play central role

RCN Scotland said the checks are essential.

‘People with learning disabilities face many

Specialist nurses must play major role in provision, says RCN, as ministers in Scotland announce funding to improve healthcare access for high-risk group, in line with the rest of the UK

Nurse talks to man with a learning disability during a health check
Picture: Tim George

Annual health checks for people with learning disabilities are to be introduced in Scotland, bringing provision into line with the rest of the UK.

The service, backed by £2 million funding for health boards, aims to reduce health inequalities and ensure individuals’ health issues are identified and treated as quickly as possible. The funding will be made available to health boards in June.

Learning disability nurses must play central role

RCN Scotland said the checks are essential.

‘People with learning disabilities face many barriers to accessing healthcare. They may not be able to communicate health needs in typical ways, they may not understand that changes may indicate health problems, and they can be reliant on other people in identifying and meeting their health needs,’ RCN Scotland associate director Eileen McKenna said.

‘Learning disability nurses must be given the opportunity to be central to these checks. All other staff who will be involved also need the appropriate training to ensure the checks are carried out in a way that support the needs of the person and their carer.’

‘The health checks are a welcome additional layer of good health practice for people with learning disabilities’

Sharon Bandeen, community learning disability nurse

High mortality from preventable conditions

Last year, evidence from the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory showed that adults with learning disabilities are twice as likely to die from preventable conditions than the general population.

Community learning disability nurse Sharon Bandeen, who has an adult son with Down’s syndrome, said: ‘The new health checks are a welcome additional layer of good health practice for people with learning disabilities.

‘It is so important that everyone living with a learning disability has equal access to the health checks, no matter where they live in Scotland.’

Scotland’s mental wellbeing minister Kevin Stewart said: ‘Evidence that people in this group are twice as likely to die from preventable illness is clearly unacceptable, and I hope these annual checks will help to address this and begin to reduce this health inequality.

‘Health issues like respiratory disorders, diabetes and thyroid problems can become serious if picked up too late. But if they are detected and treated early there’s a much better chance of a positive outcome and a good quality of life. That is where these annual health checks will be so valuable.’


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