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Annual health checks for people with a learning disability

Earlier this year, Nigel Warburton, Project Co-Ordinator with the Patient and Client Council began working with people with a learning disability and their carers, who identified annual health checks as being crucial to their overall wellbeing. Now, he’s trying to find out more about what impact the health check is having on people’s lives.   

Often it is our GP, (our local doctor) who is the first point of contact when we or a member of our family feels unwell. People with a learning disability suffer poorer physical and mental health than the general population, so its important that extra help is available to help them live as healthy as possible. 

Adults with a learning disability in Northern Ireland can avail of a Directed Enhanced Service (DES) designed to allow GPs and professionals called Health Care Facilitators to provide a detailed annual physical and mental health check. The health check is an important opportunity to discuss any concerns about their mental health and we would be interested to find out how this works for people.

This service in Northern Ireland offers:

  • Physical examination
  • Medication review
  • An opportunity for bloods to be checked
  • ECG
  • Referral for further treatment and investigations or interventions
  • An individual person-centred health and wellbeing action plan developed after the health check
  • Signposting to health promotion interventions and initiatives

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust has produced a video to help adults with a learning disability access an annual health check.

Do you know that annual health checks are available to people with a learning disability? Have you, or someone you care for had an annual health check? What has been your experience? If you have general comments, please add them below, but if you’d like to share your experience privately, please email


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Previous comments ...

Frances MC hugh 02-Apr-2018 at 17:12 hrs

Health checks are very important as they are in some cases the only health check some adults with a learning dissability may be offered or recieve.


Alan McFarland 31-Mar-2018 at 14:26 hrs

Q. Does anyone know if this scheme includes ‘DYSLEXIA’ as a Learning Disability???

Either way, excellent news. Well done the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, let’s hope other Trusts follow suit!!!


charlie lynn 30-Mar-2018 at 18:25 hrs

just to say I never knew such a thing existed so my school days are back.


Elizabeth Bradley 30-Mar-2018 at 17:25 hrs

I would like to see this extended. People with a autism spectrum condition very often suffer poorer physical and mental health than the general population too. In my experience IQ assessments are not carried out - I have been told by education psychologists that the current tools used do not work for autistic children. A regular check up process is operated by paediatric services but children are discharged from these long before they are adults - my own son was discharged before his 14th birthday. It is important that extra help is available to autistic people too, to help them live as healthy as possible, especially as their communicative and processing difficulties is, in my view, a potential and even likely hindrance to them asking for help themselves. Many people on the spectrum are falling through widening cracks in support services.