A new campaign by Dimensions, #MyGPandMe, is providing training for all GP surgery staff to make primary care fair for people who have a learning disability and/or autism.
The free course shares information and resources with patients and support teams, advising staff on the ways in which they can make their practice more accessible and inclusive.
The launch of the course comes after research by Dimensions found that almost a third of people with learning disabilities or autism feel less likely to be treated with care and concern at the doctors, and two thirds said their GP did not make reasonable adjustments for them.
Additionally, just 22% of disabled people said they felt independent in their general practice, while half said they could not understand signage at the surgery and 33% felt stressed going to the practice.
In response to these findings, almost all (98%) GPs surveyed said they would like extra training in these areas.
People with learning disabilities face significant health inequalities
People with learning disabilities and/or autism have experienced significant health inequalities for decades, and Dimensions are now calling on policy makers to reduce these inequalities.
For example, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that people with learning disabilities are five times more likely to end up in hospital for health issues that would normally be dealt with through primary care.
Furthermore, men with learning disabilities live 23 years less than the general population, and women with learning disabilities live up to 29 years less.
Dave Robinson, Dimensions Health Campaign Manager and former learning disability nurse, helped to design the training. He said: "The mortality gap is an injustice to those who die early, and sustains low expectations…which can impact on the care people with learning disabilities receive."
He told Nursing Times that he hoped the training would prove to be a “valuable source of information for nurses” and help ensure people with learning disabilities and autism received “optimal care”.