Although people with learning disabilities appear to have more unmet health needs than their able-bodied peers, GPs appear reluctant to undertake health screening for this client group. This paper describes a specialist health screening service delivered mainly by community learning disability nurses to nearly 600 children and adults. Prior to the service being established, 141 GPs within a defined area were surveyed and responses obtained from 51% of them. Although a majority thought the service would be helpful; three-quarters felt it was better provided within the context of special services. After screening, 54% of the sample (318 persons) were referred to their GP for further assessment and treatment, nearly all for physical health needs A second study investigated the attitudes of 91 GPs who had patients referred. Those doctors who reported dealing with a referral (N=45) were more favourably disposed to undertaking health screening within their practice either alone or in association with specialist nurses whereas those who had been uninvolved (N=23) continued to opt for specialist provision. Options for encouraging more GPs to offer preventative health care to this client groups are discussed; including medical training, extra consulting time and linking community learning disability nurses with GP practices.
|Journal of Learning Disabilities
|Published (in print/issue) - 1 Jul 2002