UK Study: People With Mental Disabilities Receive Poorest Health
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 15, 2006
LONDON, ENGLAND--Britons with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities receive worse health care than the rest of the population, a study by the Disability Rights Commission revealed Thursday.
For the study, entitled "Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap", the DRC examined primary care health records of eight million people in England and Wales over an 18-month period, and interviewed senior health professionals, policy makers and people with disabilities.
The study showed that people with these disabilities were more likely to receive substandard medical treatment and die at a younger age. It also found that they were much more likely to experience diseases and conditions such as colon cancer, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, and strokes.
The study blamed the United Kingdom's National Health Service for "systemic" inequalities, such as failing to eliminate barriers that keep people with these disabilities from receiving such things as important medical information, tests, and prescriptions.
The DRC noted that the NHS could face legal action if it does not "plan robust action now to reduce gaps of inequality" as the new Disability Equality Duty comes into effect in December.
"This is completely unacceptable -- we need to see a radical change in the commissioning, targeting and delivery of health services in order to close this gap quickly," said DRC chairman Bert Massie.
Paul Corry, Director of Public Affairs for the mental health charity Rethink, said: "This report uncovers the shocking -- and sometimes illegal -- discrimination people with mental health problems face."
"Sadly its findings are all too common for mental health service users and carers."
Press release: Investigation finds people with the worst health get the worst healthcare (Disability Rights Commission)
Report: Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap" (Disability Rights Commission)
Press release: Fight physical and mental health care injustice (Rethink)
Disabled 'suffer healthcare gap by age & disability correspondent Geoff Adams-Spink (BBC News)