The NHS in North Tyneside is encouraging parents and carers of people with learning disabilities to ensure that they have their annual health check.
People with learning disabilities often find it more difficult to recognise illness, describe their needs and use health services. The annual health check is offered by GPs to anyone aged 14 and over with a learning disability, to check their physical health, including looking for health conditions that may otherwise go undetected.
Dr Clare Scarlett, Clinical Lead at NHS North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If you are the parent or carer of someone with a learning disability, it is important to encourage them to take up the offer of a health check. It’s a free NHS service designed to spot any health problems at an early stage, when it’s often more simple to treat.
“The health check is also a perfect time to ask about anything that is worrying you or to help get used to visiting your GP practice. We understand that some people can feel very nervous about seeing a GP or nurse, but a health check can help to show that there is no need to worry.”
Patients attending a health check will be offered a general physical examination, including checking their weight, heart rate and blood pressure, and they may also be offered a blood or urine test. Any medication they take will be reviewed and there will be a check on any existing health condition, such as diabetes or asthma.
Dr Scarlett added: “People with learning disabilities can get extra support when visiting their doctor, but we need to make sure that they are eligible and on the learning disability register so they can access that support. If you’re not sure if you’re registered, you, your relative or carer can check with the receptionist at your GP surgery.”