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Healthcare for people with learning disabilities must improve

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More needs to be done across health and care services to improve the treatment that people with learning disabilities receive, says care and support minister, Norman Lamb.

Two new publications from the DoH, the responses to the confidential inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities and the Six Lives Progress Report on Healthcare for People with Learning Disabilities, have been released.

They show that while some improvements have been made, people with learning disabilities are still experiencing poor care, and face unacceptable inequalities in health and social care.

The National Clinical Director for learning disability will look at developing best practice guidelines for the treatment of people with learning disabilities.

Other recommendations in the report are to:

Make improvements to the way people with learning difficulties are identified in order to respond better to their needs,

Aim to have a known contact for people with multiple long-term conditions to coordinate their care

Communicate with different professionals and be involved in care planning with the individual

Look at introducing patient-held records for all people with learning disabilities who have several health conditions.

Mr Lamb said: ‘It is not good enough that people with learning disabilities are at a greater risk of dying earlier due to poor healthcare.

‘Good, high-quality care should be expected for everyone. We wouldn't accept this kind of poor care for cancer patients, so there is no reason why it is acceptable for people with learning disabilities.

‘We are making progress on improving standards of care, but we have to go further and keep driving forward our plans.

The second Six Lives Progress report shows that more people with learning disabilities than ever before have taken up an annual health check which will help improve health and prevent any issues before they become a crisis. This report also sets out priority areas for further progress including developing services that reflect the views of people with learning disabilities and supporting the spread of personal budgets. It will ensure that health and wellbeing boards have enough information to help them understand the complex needs of people with learning disabilities and how to work with NHS England to make sure that the system continues to monitor and improve the health and care outcomes for people with learning disabilities.

The DoH has worked together with Mencap and the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) to listen to people with learning disabilities and their family carers to see how best to make improvements.

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