Brandon partners with Nuffield Trust to tackle health inequalities

Posted: 8 April 2024

A patient at a medical consultation with a medical professional

In this article:

  • What are the health inequalities for people with a learning disability and/or autism?
  • What have we learnt from this project?
  • What is the report, 'Preventing people with a learning disability from dying too young', asking for?
  • Why were we involved?
  • More information

What are the health inequalities for people with a learning disability and/or autism?

People with a learning disability and/or autism are highly likely to face health inequalities.

On average, the life expectancy of a woman with a learning disability, is 18 years shorter than for women in the general population. And that gap is 14 years for men.

The disadvantage is specifically seen in obesity data, cancer screening rates, obtaining an early diagnosis for potentially treatable health conditions, and mental health support.

Because of these inequalities affecting the life expectancy of people with a learning disability and/or autism, Nuffield Trust decided to investigate what the actual problems are and how they can be tackled. They have now published a report outlining their findings.

What have we learnt from this project?

Some of the evidence gathered from social care providers, including Brandon, for Nuffield Trust’s report, includes:

  • People with a learning disability are not always able to get equitable preventive support
  • People with a learning disability are more likely than the rest of the population to be obese, particularly in teenage years and in young adulthood
  • Cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage for people with a learning disability than for the general population, and these late diagnoses are sadly often made during emergency presentation at hospital
  • Only approximately 26% of people with a learning disability in England are on the learning disability register, which could prevent them from accessing annual health checks and Covid-19 and flu vaccinations
  • Despite a higher prevalence of mental health problems in people with a learning disability, access to effective mental health treatments is often poor

What is the report, ‘Preventing people with a learning disability from dying too young’, asking for?

The report published by Nuffield Trust, which Brandon has contributed to, includes recommendations to tackle the issues in health and social care that impacts the life expectancy of someone with a learning disability and/or autism.

The recommendations include:

  • NHS England should conduct a national review of the quality of annual health checks for people with a learning disability
  • Integrated care boards should use local data to review the number of people on GP learning disability registers and organise targeted information campaigns to encourage people to join the register
  • The number of health and social care staff working in care coordination roles should be increased to improve care coordination for people with a learning disability
  • All providers of NHS and publicly funded social care should deliver training to staff in the use of the ‘Reasonable Adjustment Digital Flag’. This should ensure that staff understand how to record and share details of reasonable adjustments that people with a disability or impairment require to access services
  • All local authorities should provide weight management programmes specifically tailored for people with a learning disability

Why were we involved?

Brandon’s Chief Executive, Helen England, took park in the panel discussions that contributed to the final report on behalf of the people we support.

She said: “Brandon Trust was delighted to partner with Nuffield Trust and participate in the development of this pivotal report. We remain passionate about reducing the inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities and we are committed to supporting both local authorities and integrated care boards to act on the recommendations in this report.”

More information

For more information, please download one of the reports:

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