GP Practices across north Cumbria have exceeded the national target for learning disability annual health checks for the first time.

Practices across north Cumbria have been praised after offering 76 percent of people with a learning disability an annual health check, against the NHS England target of 75 percent.

The annual health check for those over the age of 14 with a learning disability is carried out by GPs and practice nurses. The physical check-up includes:

  • weight check
  • blood pressure check
  • discussions about medication
  • discussions about staying well

Dr Amanda Boardman, GP Lead for Safeguarding, Mental Health and Children for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: "We are delighted that our GP Practices have exceeded the national target for learning disability annual health checks, especially during the covid pandemic.

"Our practices have really engaged with the programme, and will continue to ensure they are doing everything they can to reach as many patients as possible. We will focus on how we can keep improving and will be offering additional training and support sessions again next year.

"One of the things we are really pleased to see is the development of our Health Pathways approach, which is designed to aid increased consistency in our learning disability health checks and should help drive up quality in the future.

“Our GP Practices support the national ‘Stopping over Medication of People with a learning disability, autism or both’ programme, known as STOMP. Medication reviews are regularly offered as part of the annual health check, and GP practices will be receiving more training on this in July."

North Cumbria has also successfully focused on supporting those with learning disabilities to access the national covid vaccine programme.

To date figures show 90% of patients over the age of 16 and on the learning disability register have had their first vaccine and 69% have had their second.

Ed Tallis, Director of Primary Care for NHS North Cumbria CCG, said: “We have made a massive effort to reach those groups that historically experience inequalities like those with learning disability.

“We have had practices hold special relaxed sessions to ensure people were given extra time and reassurance, in an environment which was less busy, meaning carers could come along and support those they care for through the vaccination process. We know some people with additional needs benefit from taking the time to talk through what will happen and discuss and understand why the vaccine is important for them. I’m proud of all our teams who have helped make this happen in such a supportive way.”

The CCG has praised the work of the Primary Care Networks (PCNs), the Nursing and Quality team, the Learning Disability Network and the wider primary care teams who have all supported local practices.