SDLP MLA and Chair of the All-Party Group on Learning Disability Pat Ramsey has called on the Health Minister to ensure that practice and protocol of the Health and Social Care Service is adequate to meet the needs of those living with learning difficulties.
Speaking at the start of Learning Disability Week, Mr Ramsey highlighted the problem that people with learning disabilities have accessing necessary health care leading to increased health problems.
“Following discussion with Mencap, the University of Ulster, the Health Service and those living with learning disabilities it is clear that a lot more can be done to help people with learning disabilities access healthcare.
“People with learning disabilities face much greater challenges in accessing healthcare. Many rely on others to assist them and many are living with other health conditions such as epilepsy or vision and hearing impairment,” said Mr. Ramsey.
Mr. Ramsey went on to say that an all-party group set-up to address the issues facing people with learning disabilities was calling on the Health Minister to put make sure the level of care was the same for everyone.
“Our Health Service relies on people identifying their own health problems and then requesting treatment, something which people with learning disabilities can find hard to do. They may not have the information on how to get help, they can find it difficult to use a telephone and access transport, and they may not always recognise that they have a problem. It is the unfortunate reality that those with learning disabilities do not get the same quality of primary care as everyone else leading to increased complications further down the road.
“The All-Party Group on Learning Disability calls on the Health Minister to introduce measures to counter this deficit in healthcare provision. Annual health checks, better guidelines for GPs and Hospitals along with special training for staff so they can better communicate with people with learning disabilities are just some steps we can take to begin to tackle this problem.
“Better primary care will not only benefit people living with learning disabilities but will save the health service the time and resources that will be needed to address the complications that will occur from untreated health problems.”