Annual health checks for people with learning disabilities in Scotland

They are aimed at helping to identify any health issues early.

Annual health checks for people with learning disabilities in Scotland iStock
Funding of £2m is being made available by the Scottish Government to health boards for the delivery of the checks.

Annual health checks are to be made available for people with learning disabilities in Scotland.

Funding of £2m is being allocated to health boards to deliver the checks from June this year.

The checks are aimed at helping identify any health issues and to ensure those are treated as quickly as possible.

Community learning disability nurse Sharon Bandeen has an adult son with Down’s Syndrome.

She welcomed the announcement of the health checks, which will be delivered in local communities.

“The new health checks are a welcome additional layer of good health practice for people with learning disabilities in Scotland,” she said.

“It is so important that everyone living with a learning disability has equal access to the health checks, no matter where they live in Scotland.”

Eddie McConnell, chief executive of Down’s Syndrome Scotland, outlined the life-saving benefits that could be brought by the checks.

“This is a really significant moment in the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families,” said McConnell.

“The rollout of the annual health checks across Scotland has the potential to be a game-changer in improving the health outcomes for this community who deserve equal access to good health. 

“It is no exaggeration to say that a well-implemented annual health check could save lives.”

Mental wellbeing minister Kevin Stewart explained that if health issues are detected and treated early, there is a better chance of a positive outcome.

“Unfortunately we know that people with learning disabilities can experience poorer health than the rest of the population,” he said.

“Evidence suggests that people in this group are twice as likely to die from preventable illness.

“This is clearly unacceptable and I hope these annual checks will help to address this and begin to reduce this health inequality.

“Health issues like respiratory disorders, diabetes and thyroid problems can become serious if picked up too late.

“But if they are detected and treated early there’s a much better chance of a positive outcome and a good quality of life.

“That is where these annual health checks will be so valuable.”