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Speak Out Cambridgeshire acts to improve primary care for people with learning disabilities

21 July 2023

They hope new resources will help to ensure annual health checks are more accessible.

People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than other people. Annual health checks can help them to stay well, by finding health problems early. They’re offered to everyone with a learning disability aged over 14.

However, many people with learning disabilities find it difficult to access their health check, and other medical care.

Speak Out Cambridge carried out a six-month survey to find out what people think about their health care.

They then worked with the primary care network team to make changes for people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Speak Out leaders from Cambridgeshire

These are some of the tips the leaders created for annual health checks and all other appointments:

Easy Read as standard

Easy Read should be the standard format for all communication. This includes: 

  • appointment invitations
  • reminders
  • health action plans

Choice and control in appointments

It’s important that the person having the health check gets personalised care.

Choice of appointment length

Being offered a longer or shorter appointment gives people choice. It can allow time for questions, talking about worries and desensitisation.

Choice of appointment format

People should be offered the choice of a face-to-face apppointment, a home visit or a telephone appointment.

Choice of time of appointment

GP surgeries and hospitals can be busy, noisy places. 

Offering appointments near the start or the end of the day can help provide a quieter space for people with sensory needs.

Choice of GP

People should be able to choose to see a male or female doctor at their appointments and annual health checks.

Accessible information available to all

GP surgeries and hospital often provide information for visiting patients, but this isn’t typically provided in Easy Read. This means people with learning disabilities may not find out about services they could use. 

Information should be readily available and visible, including information about:

  • vaccinations
  • health screening
  • annual health checks

Speak Out

Speak Out Cambridgeshire and Speak Out Peterborough are for people with learning disabilities and autistic people. 

They work as equals with service providers to plan, create and improve services for people like them. By co-producing services, they make sure that people’s voices are heard in decisions that affect them.

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