Help in hospital for learning disabilities

Supporting equal access to hospital services


Key issues

Carers of people with learning disabilities are reporting that generic health services provided in hospitals are not delivering treatment and medical advice in a way that appropriately meets the specialist needs of the people they care for.

Predominant concerns raised are:

– Hospital staff are not listening to the patient or carer when they talk about their learning disability and are not interested in hearing about this

– Hospital staff lack understanding of learning disabilities and are unskilled in aiding patients with their individual needs

– Hospital staff are delivering treatment without explaining what will happen to the patient and are then surprised if the patient reacts negatively

The concerns listed here are compounded by the variability between hospitals in the level of understanding of, and support available for, patients with learning disabilities, and the awareness of staff of the specialist support available.

Nationally, there has been a great deal of acknowledgement and investigation of the disparity between the service received by people who have learning disabilities and those who do not. There has been an acceptance that some people with learning disabilities have, in the past, received a sub-standard service due to a lack of reasonable adjustment of services to meet patient needs. As such, health and social care services now have a statutory obligation to make reasonable adjustments to the services they provide to address the needs of patients with learning disabilities.

In Kirklees, the Learning Disability Partnership Group are striving to ensure that reasonable adjustments are being made to improve access to medical support and advice.  In spite of this, people with learning disabilities continue to have a poorer experience of interacting with hospital services.


If you would like to share your views about this, or have a story you’d like to tell us, get in touch with Helen Wright who is leading on this piece of work