Health and care of people with learning disabilities

April 10, 2017

NHS Digital has published data on the health and care of people with learning disabilities.

The aggregated data covers key health issues for people who are recorded by their GP as having a learning disability, and comparative data about a control group who are not recorded by their GP as having a learning disability.

Information on people with and without learning disabilities was collected from over half of GP practices in England in 2014-15 and 2015-16, to identify potential differences in the treatment, health status, and outcomes of people with learning disabilities compared with the rest of the population. Overall, in 2015-16, 0.45% of the population were recorded as having a learning disability.

Other key facts from the data are:

  • Just over 56% of patients registered at General Practices in England are represented in the dataset, including 146,005 people with a learning disability and 32,491,016 people without a learning disability.
  • On average, females with learning disabilities had around an 18 year shorter life expectancy than the general population, and males had around a 14 year shorter life expectancy than the general population.
  • 3 in 4 eligible patients with a learning disability received colorectal cancer screening, an increase from just over 2 in 3 in 2014-15.
  • Breast cancer screening for eligible female patients decreased in all age groups in both patients with and without a learning disability. Females aged 65 to 69 with a learning disability saw the largest decrease, from just under 55% in 2014-15 to around 52% in 2015-16.
  • Fewer than 1 in 3 eligible females with a learning disability received cervical cancer screening, showing no change from 2014-15. Over 3 in 4 eligible females without a learning disability received this test.
  • The percentage of patients known to their GP as having a learning disability who received an annual learning disability health check increased to 46% from 43% in 2014-15.
  • Obesity is twice as common in people aged 18-35 with learning disabilities, being underweight is twice as common in people aged over 64 with learning disabilities, compared with patients with no learning disabilities.

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