The Practice Managers Association has joined #MyGPandMe, in an advisory role. Here, we look at this new campaign to improve healthcare outcomes for people with learning disabilities and autism, and how you can make a real difference in your practice:

Dimensions is a national not-for-profit support provider for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. The organisation has a strong health focus and their #MyGPandMe campaignhas been created to help make doctors’ surgeries more accessible for people with learning disabilities or autism.

People with learning disabilities are five times more likely to end up in hospital for preventable issues that can be treated by their GP. So Dimensions surveyed people with learning disabilities and autism, those that support them, and GPs. Together, #MyGPandMe paints a picture of exclusion, of mixed experiences of primary healthcare, and of a GP profession that acknowledges the issues and which has simply not received any training in how best to support people with learning disabilities with their health.

Amongst other things, the research found:

  • Two thirds of GPs said they have received less than a day’s training on how to meet the needs of patients with learning disabilities or autism. 98% said they would find training beneficial.
  • People with learning disabilities or autism are 30% less likely to feel listened to by the GP
  • Almost a third of people with learning disabilities or autism feel less likely than the general public to be treated with care and concern
  • 60% of people said their GP did not make reasonable adjustments for them
  • 55% of GPs identified communication issues between patients, support workers and GPs as an obstacle
  • Just half of people felt they were involved in decisions about their healthcare.

Amid this, researchers heard of many fabulous stories of great primary healthcare provision. There’s no doubt that many practices are delivering outstanding, personalised care to individuals. The challenge is to get this best practice replicated in tens of thousands of surgeries nationally.

The #MyGPandMe research isolated a number of particular health issues to focus on. For example, just 19% of eligible women with learning disabilities have a recent cervical screening compared to 84% of the general population. There’s a 10% breast screening gap. And the research re-emphasised the importance of health checks in tackling known issues such as medication and constipation.

As a support provider to over 3500 adults with learning disabilities, Dimensions has produced a range of resources to help everyone with an interest in this area, from social stories to GP passports, constipation advice to best practice case studies. And they are offering 50 free whole-practice GP training courses led by experts by experience, to start to make things better.

You can make a difference. Get your practice to undertake the training. Help the campaign lobby for mandatory training for student GPs. Read and share the campaign widely. Play your part in tackling the mortality gap. Because everyone should have access to healthcare that meets their needs. Thank you