Pledge is an important step
NHS England's pledge to prioritise learning disabilities and autism is an important step in the right direction. For too long, people with learning disabilities and autism have experienced unacceptable health inequalities, particularly at the primary care level.
Dimensions’ latest research revealed that, if you have a learning disability, you are far more likely for a raft of health issues to go undiagnosed and untreated at your GP. Encouragingly, three quarters of GPs are calling for training to address this gap.
These systemic and training issues in the primary healthcare system urgently need addressing, to ensure that the lives of people with learning disabilities are valued the same as everyone else.
There needs to be a widescale shift in the attitudes and perceptions around learning disabilities and autism. These are not illnesses in themselves and do not need ‘treating’. People with learning disabilities and autism experience the same mental and physical health issues as everyone else, but may need adjustments so they can access equal treatment and take measures to prevent future health issues.
We are calling for this pledge to be backed up with rigid measures that ensure all GPs receive mandatory training, co-led by people with learning disabilities, so GPs can better and more confidently communicate and diagnose health issues and identify risk factors.
Head of Public Affairs at Dimensions