Published on: 8th July 2024

Photo of primary care assistant practitioner Akum Ibekwe, from our Oldham community learning disability service.Thanks to the ongoing hard work and commitment of learning disability teams across Greater Manchester, more people are staying healthy and living longer.

98% of people in Greater Manchester with a learning disability have a health action plan in place, which records what they need and want to stay healthy. And 81.3% of people aged 14+ have received vital annual health check; an increase of 23% in two years.

This means Greater Manchester is well above the national health check target of 75%, and the national average of 77.6%. And is the highest in the northwest.

We provide learning disability services in five boroughs - Bury; Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale; Oldham; Stockport and Tameside.

Stockport and Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale are in the top three best performing boroughs (first and third respectively).

Annual health checks are carried out by a GP or nurse, with support from learning disability colleagues where needed. It includes asking the person some questions about their health and carrying out a few checks such as blood pressure, height, weight and sometimes taking a sample of blood or urine.

An action plan is developed following the checks, to keep them healthy over the next 12 months. This will reduce the significant health inequalities people with learning disabilities face and help ensure they longer and healthier lives. 

The high uptake is thanks to the effective partnerships that have been developed between GPs, learning disability colleagues and others who share a commitment for improving the lives of people with a learning disability.

Kevin’s story

Kevin,40, was homeless, misusing substances and highly vulnerable.

Primary care assistant practitioner Akum Ibekwe is from our Oldham community learning disability service.

She worked with the learning disability champion at an Oldham GP practice to review the learning disability register. This highlighted Kevin hadn’t seen his GP or had a health check for four years, due to having no fixed address or phone number.

Akum said: “My first step was to ask if he was happy to collect his weekly money from a local office in cash, rather than having it transferred to a card.  This provided a regular opportunity to meet with him, build trust and develop a relationship.

“He began to spend an hour or two with me under a warm roof, where he enjoyed a warm drink and food, and we chatted about support and adjustments he needed.

“Eventually he agreed for me to arrange for some temporary accommodation. When I next saw him, he was feeling positive as he’d had a warm bath for the first time in months and slept on a nice bed.

“He agreed to have a health check with a nurse from the borough’s drug and alcohol service, which meant they could assess his substance misuse issues at the same time as his wider health needs.

“The health check identified Kevin had not received any winter vaccines, had injuries to his back, arms and hands, urinary incontinence, and was severely underweight. There were also concerns about his mental health. The results were shared with his GP, for follow up.

“I’ll continue to support Kevin and work with colleagues to make sure he remains healthy and safe.”

How to arrange a health check

The aim is to ensure everyone with a learning disability has an annual health check and action plan. This will reduce the significant health inequalities they face, helping them live longer and healthier lives.

Anyone with a learning disability who has not had a health check in the last year is encouraged to get in touch with their GP.

Click here for more information about our learning disability services.