Are some Thurrock doctors refusing to treat people with learning difficulties?

THURROCK residents with learning difficulties are being seriously let down by their doctors as they, at worst, refuse, to give them annual health checks, claim a Thurrock health watchdog.

Since 2009, doctors across Thurrock have signed up to the Directive Enhanced Service (DES), which is an extra payment given to individual GP’s for each person registered with them who has a diagnosis of a Learning Difficulty.

But according to figures released by leading pressure group, Thurrock Healthwatch, there has been a worryingly low number of individuals who have been checked.

2008/9–number delivered 0=0%
2009/10–number delivered 183=16%
2010/11–number delivered 139=11%
2011/12 –number delivered 585=36% .

The jump in 2011-12 looks encouraging until research revealed that Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions was escorting residents with learning difficulties to their GP to request a health check.

And according to sources, TLS are so angry with the situation that they may take to picketing outside doctor’s surgeries.

Things look far from encouraging for this year. According to figures obtained by Thurrock Healthwatch, 41% of GP’s in Thurrock have not signed up to deliver the health checks this year.

A spokesperson said:” We are concerned about the lack of health checks being delivered by our local GP’s even though they sign up to the DES (Directive Enhanced Service), which is an extra payment given to individual GP’s for each person registered with them who has a diagnosis of a Learning Difficulty.

“The figures speak for themselves. We have been contacted by individuals, parents, groups and organisations who support residents in Thurrock with Learning Difficulties (LD) and been told of those whose GP’s have openly refused to carry out the checks of our residents with LD who have life limiting diseases or who have in fact died of conditions that may have been avoidable had they been picked up sooner.”

Last week, YT interviewed a Dr Pro Mallik, a board member of the Thurrock Clincial Commissioning Group (CCG). We asked her what figures she had in relation to health checks for people with learning difficulties.

Dr Mallik said: “That is something you would have to request through the Freedom of Information Act”.

Later on, the CCG issued a statement.

Executive Nurse, NHS Thurrock CCG, Jane Foster-Taylor said:

“We are aware that the delivery of learning disability annual health checks is very poor in Thurrock and as a result there are increased risks to the health of learning disabled people.

While NHS England, who manage GP contracts are liaising directly with GPs to determine why this is the case, the CCG has been working on plans to ensure that alternative arrangements are in place.

“NHS Thurrock CCG will shortly be in a position to offer a learning disability annual health check to those Thurrock residents whose GPs do not offer this service.

Thurrock Healthwatch wanted to make it clear that they were aware that a number of groups were working to improve the situation.

They added: “The CCG Chair, Executive Nurse and PPI lead are all working to resolve this issue and to ensure that every resident has fair access to services, but they do not commission or monitor GP services, that is the job of NHS England Essex team, led by Andrew Pike”.

However Thurrock Healthwatch issued a warning and pointed to what had happened in other areas.

They said: “We would also like to refer to the recent report by the University of Bristol on the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with Learning Disabilities and also the MENCAP Report Death by Indifference which both refer to the failing of GP’S to carry out health checks.”

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