People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than other people. This does not need to be the case.

It is important that everyone over the age of 14 who is on their doctor’s learning disability register has an annual health check.

An annual health check can help you stay well by talking to a doctor or nurse about your health and finding any problems early, so they can be sorted out.

You do not have to be ill to have a health check – in fact, most people have their annual health check when they are feeling well.

If you are worried about seeing a doctor, or there is anything they can do to make your appointment better, let the doctor or nurse know.

They can make changes to help you. These are called reasonable adjustments.

Watch this video about annual health checks on YouTube

Who can have an annual health check?

Anyone aged 14 or over who is on their doctor’s learning disability register can have a free annual health check once a year. You can ask to go on this register if you think you have a learning disability. Check with your doctor’s practice if you or the person you care for is on the register.

How will an annual health check help?

You will get to know your doctor better. The doctor will also be able to spot any health problems sooner so that you get the treatment you need to stay well. You can ask your doctor questions about your health and tell them how you are feeling. You can also talk about any treatment you are having or medicine you use.

How do you get an appointment?
Adults and young people aged 14 or over with a learning disability who are on the doctor’s practice learning disability register should be invited by their doctor to come for an annual health check.

What happens during the annual health check?
You might see different health professionals. These might include a doctor, a pharmacist, a nurse or a healthcare assistant. They have all had extra training to be able to do the health check.

During the health check, the health professional will :

do a physical check-up, including weight, heart rate and blood pressure
they may ask you to pee in a small pot for them to check your urine, or ask you to have a blood test
talk to you about staying well and if you need any help with this
ask about things that can be more common if you have a learning disability, such as epilepsy, constipation or problems with swallowing (dysphagia), or with your eyesight or hearing
talk to you about your medicines to make sure you are being given the right medicines when you need them
check to see if your vaccinations are up to date
check how you are feeling if you have a health problem such as asthma or diabetes
check to see if you have any other health appointments
ask if your family or carers are getting the support they need
help make sure that things go well when children move to adult services at the age of 18

Do you have to have an annual health check?

No. You can choose if you want to have an annual health check or not.

You can ask the doctor or nurse for more information about annual health checks before you decide.

You will be asked if you are OK (give your consent) with having any tests or procedures before you have them.

What if my doctor does not offer the annual health check?

Most doctors offer annual health checks to people with a learning disability. But they do not have to offer this service.

If your doctor’s practice has not offered you an annual health check, you can ask them if you can have one. If they say no, ask your local community learning disability team to help you get one.

(Infomation from 13/12/2022)