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Health checks for young people with learning disabilities could detect and prevent longer term problems

PUBLISHED: 15:43 24 October 2018

Imaad Khalid, GP lead for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) for theIpswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group Picture: CCG

Imaad Khalid, GP lead for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) for theIpswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group Picture: CCG

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Parents and carers of young people with learning disabilities are being encouraged to ensure they undergo an annual GP health check.

The free yearly appointment for people aged 14-25 includes weight, heart and blood pressure checks and blood and urine samples.

Health leaders say they can help people stay fit, enjoy mental wellbeing, and identifying problems for prompt treatment.

They provide an opportunity to check on ongoing health issues, such as diabetes or asthma, as well as talk over any physical or mental wellbeing concerns, so they can be referred to other organisations for help and support.

Imaad Khalid, GP lead for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) for the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The detection of potential health problems early helps to prevent longer term issues.

“By supporting good health in our young people we are giving them the very best chance to live healthy adult lives. An annual health check is an important mechanism for this to be achieved.”

Rosalind Tandy, GP Mental Health Lead for the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “While these annual health checks are entirely voluntary, I do hope that we can encourage more young people to access this annual assessment.

“GP practice staff have received specific learning disability training and they will give whatever support they can, such as by offering an appointment at the beginning or end of the day to avoid a busy waiting room and by using simple language or easy read documents.”

A spokesperson for Suffolk Parent Carer Network added: “Annual health checks, when done well, are a good way for our young people to learn about their own health, how to stay well and what to look out for, and expect, when they aren’t well.

“As people with learning disabilities are currently dying, on average, up to 29 years younger than the rest of us, these health checks will go a long way to improving the healthcare they need.”

GP practices issue annual invitations to participate in health checks, which are available for people of all ages with learning disabilities, but appointments can be booked at any time.

Young people from the Papworth Trust in Ipswich helped design a set of online resources aimed at helping over-14s with learning disabilities understand why they should attend an annual health check.

One of the youngsters, Max, said: “It’s important to have annual health checks to make sure you’re healthy and have lots of energy to do sports.”

Another, Sabastian, added: “It’s important to have health checks to make sure you are ok and not feeling unwell. When you dance and plat sports you need a lot of energy to put into the performance.”

The online resources can be accessed on the Suffolk Local Offer website HERE

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