Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New guidance for GP practices to improve annual health check uptake

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust has released guidance for other GP practices after the trust saw a huge increase in the number of people with learning disabilities having annual health checks.

Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) is now the second best performing ICB in the whole of the Midlands and in the top 10 performing trusts in England, when just two years ago, it was one of the lowest performing areas in the country.

The trust says it took various measures at its GP practices to increase the number and quality of Annual Health Checks, including:

  • Encouraging the same GP and nurse to complete the health check. And by involving admin staff, they can build a relationship and understand each person’s needs around appointments and how they communicate;
  • Having a good knowledge of their patients – providing more time for patients who are known to find appointments a challenge and offering flexible home visits when needed;
  • Providing information in easy-read, colourful and pictorial format, to put the patient at ease and prepare them for their upcoming health check;
  • Reminding patients/carers the day before appointments by telephone and extra reminders for those who often miss appointments; and
  • Completing health checks throughout the year, rather than at the end of the year.

This guidance could easily be applied to other GP practices who are struggling to get people with learning disabilities to come forward for their yearly health check.

Spotting health problems early

Health checks, which take around 45 minutes to complete, are vital to ensure that people with learning disabilities are receiving the care they need. They also enable GPs to spot any health problems early so that they can be better treated.

If a trust is struggling to reach their targets, Primary Care Liaison Nurses (PCLNs) can help to provide support and training on annual health checks for primary care and social care partners.

These nurses help to improve access to health care and reduce health inequalities for people with a learning disability.

Making the practice aware of any reasonable adjustments that may be needed

Rebecca Eccles, health equity lead for the Learning Disability and Autism Collaborative for LLR, says anyone who is worried about having an annual health check should call their GP practice (with the help of a family member of friend if necessary) so that the practice can make the appropriate reasonable adjustments.

“Working collaboratively together has transformed healthcare for people with learning disabilities. It’s really encouraging to see the results of our hard work and we’re delighted that more people are coming forward for their annual health checks.

“If you find it difficult to get to a GP practice or if you’re worried about the appointment, please do contact someone at your GP practice so that they can do their best to support you. This can include having a relative, friend, carer or support worker with you to help you communicate your needs. It’s important to let your GP practice know what reasonable adjustments you need so they can place it as an alert on your clinical records so other health professionals are aware,” she said.

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