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Free health checks for patients with learning disabilities

2022-03-02T20:11:00+00:002nd March 2022|Latest news|

GPs and health professionals in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale are urging patients with learning disabilities to come forward for their free annual health check.

Anyone with a learning disability aged 14 and above who is on their GP’s learning disability register is entitled to a free health check once a year.

Evidence shows that people with learning disabilities often have poorer physical and mental health than the general population. This doesn’t need to be the case, and regular annual health checks can help to spot health issues before they become a problem.

The health check itself involves a number of simple but important checks, including a physical check-up, such as weight, blood pressure, blood and urine samples, a vaccination review, medication management and help to manage long term health conditions like epilepsy and problems with swallowing (dysphagia) which are often more common in people with learning disabilities. The health checks are also an important way for someone to get to know their doctor and talk about any concerns they might have.

Alyson Harvey, Adult Safeguarding Designated Professional and Deputy Adult Quality Lead at NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG, said: “Last year, despite the pandemic, over 80% of learning disability health checks were completed across the borough. Whilst this is good news, we want to remind people with learning disabilities and their carers of the importance of having a health check every year.

We know that annual health checks can significantly improve the health outcomes of people with learning disabilities. Our aim is to make sure that all people in our borough with a learning disability have a health check every year and we would encourage anyone who hasn’t yet had one to contact their GP surgery to book in as soon as possible.”

Dr Imran Ghafoor, NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG clinical strategic lead for Mental Health and Safeguarding, added: “The last two years have been particularly challenging for GPs due to the pandemic and with the emergence of Omicron towards the end of 2021 a lot of our normal day to day work was put on hold in order to prioritise the Covid-19 booster vaccination campaign.

I want to assure patients that GPs are still open for business and providing appointments, including annual health checks.

If you have any concerns about attending your GP surgery, talk to your practice. They may be able to make adjustments like longer appointment times and provide access to easy read information to make it easier to attend. You can also bring a family member or carer with you and in some cases all or some of the appointment can be done via video link.”

More details about annual learning disability health checks can be found on the NHS website here.