Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities

January 16, 2020

NHS Digital has today published information on the health and care of people with learning disabilities in 2018-19.

Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities: Experimental Statistics: 2018 to 2019 examines trends in the key health issues for people who have a learning disability according to their GP records. It also contains information on how this data compares to that of people without a recorded learning disability.

Looking at data from participating practices, which amounts to around 54% of people in England with a learning disability, the report investigates rates of mortality, life expectancy, and prevalence of certain health conditions.

Notably, the report states that, 'Based on 2018-19 data, males with a learning disability have a life expectancy at birth of 66 years. This is 14 years lower than for males in the general population.' For females, the report found that those with a learning disability have a life expectancy of 67 years, 17 years lower than females without a learning disability.

The report adds, 'There has been no statistically significant change in life expectancy for patients with a learning disability between 2014-15 and 2018-19.'

Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities 2018-19 also revealed that epilepsy was 26 times more common in people with a learning disability than would be expected for an equivalent cohort of those without a learning disability. The prevalence rates for asthma, hypertension and non type I diabetes have all also seen a significant increase since the 2017-18 data was collected.

Cervical cancer screening for those with a learning disability does appear to have improved, with more people than ever receiving a cervical cancer screening in 2018-19, although this rate is still much lower than uptake from those who do not have a learning disability.

Responding to the report, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said, 'People with learning disabilities should have the same standard of health care as everybody else, yet they often face poorer health outcomes and shorter life-spans. To increase transparency, we have asked NHS England to routinely publish local performance data on the services for people with learning disabilities.

'We are also taking action to address recommendations set out in the third Learning Disabilities Mortality Review and will be publishing our formal response in the coming weeks.'

The full report is available on the NHS Digital website.

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