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Report: Doctors And Patients Suffer From Lack Of Adequate Training, Communication
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 24, 2004

LONDON, ENGLAND--People with learning disabilities receive poorer health care than the rest of the population because health professionals do not understand their health needs and do not communicate well with them, a report revealed Monday.

The "Treat Me Right!" report, released by the charity Mencap, claimed that the low level of care has led to inadequate treatment, sometimes resulting in death.

In a recent survey, Mencap asked 215 general practitioners in England and Northern Ireland what kind of training they received about learning disabilities, the term that would be understood as "mental retardation" or "intellectual disabilities" in the U.S.

Three-quarters of the doctors said they had received no training to help them understand the specific needs of a person with a learning disability, and 80 percent thought the Department of Health should provide medical students and health professionals with more training. Ninety percent of those surveyed said they felt the person's disability made it more difficult for them to give an accurate diagnosis.

Seventy percent of those doctors questioned responded that they did not have accessible information available to patients.

The mental disability group is calling for all health care staff to receive better training about learning disabilities, for everyone with a learning disability to be offered annual health checks, and for doctors offices and hospitals to have information and advice about health care that is accessible to patients with learning disabilities.

Mencap is also launching a campaign for people to email their lawmakers to ask them to pressure their Primary Care Trusts to improve health care for people with learning disabilities.

"People with a learning disability are experiencing poor healthcare across all sections of the NHS, despite appropriate policies from the government and some healthcare services on best practice and policy," said Jo Williams, Mencap's chief executive, in a statement. "There is inconsistency of application and this report highlights that."

"People with a learning disability have the same rights as everybody else and healthcare staff should ensure they are treated with the same respect and values as other members of society," she added.

Related:
"Treat me right! - Equal healthcare for people with a learning disability" (Mencap)
http://www.mencap.org.uk/html/treat_me_right/report.htm

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