HC Deb 15 March 2004 vol 419 cc117-9W
Mr. Jenkins

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to ensure that people with learning disabilities have access to health services. [160076]

Dr. Ladyman

People with learning disabilities have the same right of access to medical treatment as everyone else. The NHS Plan emphasised the Government's commitment to a person-centred health service that challenges discrimination on all grounds.

"Valuing People—A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century", includes an important chapter on improving health for people with learning disabilities. In July 2002, the Department issued good practice guidance on health action plans and health facilitation, two key elements of the "Valuing People" strategy for improving the health of people with learning disabilities. A health action plan is a personal plan detailing the actions needed to maintain and improve the health of an individual and any help needed to achieve this. The plan will usually be co-produced with them. Health facilitation involves casework to help people with learning disabilities access mainstream services. It also involves helping mainstream national health service services to respond to the needs of people with learning disabilities.

The "Valuing People" support team produced "All Means All" in 2003. This explains how "Improvement Expansion and Reform", the Department's planning and performance framework, relates to people with learning disabilities. "All Means All" discusses access to health care and identifies that primary care staff, for example, can ensure that all people with a learning disability are identified and known to all members of primary care teams.

"Discharge from Hospital: Pathway, Process and Practice", published by the health and social care joint unit and change agents team in January 2003 contains good practice guidance and guidelines for the acute sector when caring for someone with a learning disability. It talks about health action plans and emphasises the importance of liaison with the health or social care professional supporting the individual when making preparations for discharge from hospital.

We have undertaken to look into the possibility of annual health checks for people with learning disabilities during 2004 in our response to the recent choice consultation exercise, "Building on the Best—Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in the NHS", which was published on 9 December 2003.

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