Last reviewed 8 June 2021

Healthwatch South Gloucestershire, which was set up following the Winterbourne View scandal, has said regular health checks could prevent people with learning disabilities from dying unnecessarily.

The group formed after the BBC's Panorama programme exposed the abuse of patients at Winterbourne View hospital, in Bristol, 10 years ago, when secret filming captured patients being abused by support workers.

Local Healthwatch South Gloucestershire has since been working to ensure people with learning disabilities get access to basic health and care, which it says “could help prevent them from getting unwell and dying sooner than they should from often treatable conditions.”

Vicky Marriott from the group said: "It is our unrelenting mission to listen and share people's lived experience so that the information informs how health and social care services improve."

Only about 36% of people with learning difficulties are believed to have an annual GP health check-up. In response, Healthwatch South Gloucestershire created a checklist to encourage more people to attend appointments to help them improve their life expectancy.

Vicky Marriott explained: "We recently listened to people with learning disabilities and their families and developed with them an accessible info-sheet packed full of easy-to-read explanations about the lifesaving benefits of annual health checks."

Patients and carers can complete the checklist prior to their appointment, which contains information designed to help them recognise possible symptoms and how to seek help.

The group’s report, Improving Outcomes for People with Learning Disabilities, outlines how it worked to produce the checklist and ensure it was publicised to make an impact. It looks at how people with learning disabilities can live longer, healthier lives by encouraging GPs to use the health checklist regularly. It is available here.

Additional information about the work of Healthwatch South Gloucestershire is available here.