Partnership drives towards improving health and care for people with learning disabilities

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership has announced a package of measures aimed at reducing the health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities in the area.

These inequalities start early in life and stem from barriers to accessing appropriate and effective health care as well as other services. The latest national Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) programme report (University of Bristol June 2021) has highlighted that people with a learning disability still die much younger than the rest of the population (on average 20 years) and are three times more likely to die from causes that could have been avoided. Learning disability is not, of itself, the reason for this inequality; instead it is a result of services not meeting people’s needs. For people with a learning disability it can be difficult to stay well and get help when it is needed and this has been further compounded by the pandemic where we saw numbers of people accessing health services reduce significantly.

Our local health system is responsive to improving the health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities and has established a Learning Disabilities Health Inequalities Challenge  programme and a regional partnership group with representation from across different services to drive this aim. This covers a range of initiatives to raise awareness of the impact we can make on people’s lives by ensuring equitable care for people with a learning disability, analysing housing needs and supporting discharge from hospital, and supporting people with learning disability into employment. We are also building on work undertaken by colleagues at Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust to support all places in West Yorkshire to prioritise patients on surgical waiting lists who have with a learning disability.

The Partnership is also working with Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises, social care, Primary Care Networks and Acute Trusts to ensure that people with learning disabilities are reached out to and supported to take up their annual health checks and screening checks.

We are involving families in developing, sourcing and delivering training and awareness-raising, to ensure all services can support people with learning disabilities well and we will use trusted and robust data relating to people with learning disabilities, from all service areas within our health and care system so it can inform how we improve the care we provide.

Sara Munro.jpgDr Sara Munro, CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism; and CEO for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure people with learning disabilities will be as healthy as they can be. We intend that people with learning disabilities will experience the best possible health care and have improved outcomes from their health services.

Our objectives are clear - people with learning disabilities who live in West Yorkshire and Harrogate will live longer, healthier lives, they will have better patient experiences and better outcomes and our health and care services will be regarded as an example of best practice in how it promotes the health needs of people with learning disabilities.

We already know that our primary care partners are making great strides, over 75% of people with learning disabilities being offered an annual health check in West Yorkshire and Harrogate and we have introduced an e-learning programme for anyone who wants to know more about how to help the people they care for who have learning disabilities.  We are building on this work with the implementation of consistent standards across the whole of the area and we work closely with our panel of Health and Care Champions to develop and test our ideas.”



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