War of words between Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions and Thurrock GP

Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions response to Dr Emil Shehadeh’s blog on health checks for people with learning difficulties.

From the chief executive of Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions, Mr Neil Woodbridge

"I have had the privilege to work with and for people with Learning Disabilities in Thurrock for the past 18 years and I was really saddened to read the Dr’s comments.

My Board (many of whom have learning disabilities) have given me permission to comment publically.

There has been much scientific study on the subject – one of the most impactful is called ‘The Commission of Inquiry into Premature deaths of People with Learning Disabilities’ – they looked at 247 deaths of people with learning disability in the UK.

The quickest way for you to understand what this really means is by looking at this wonderful film about the report made by people with Learning Disabilities … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQXzcDbaVxc but in short, the report discovered some shocking facts.

Men with Learning disabilities will die 13 years younger than men without learning disabilities and women will die an astonishing 20 years younger. The causes of their deaths are nothing to do with their impairment – but simply due to the fact they do not understand when they are ill, they don’t recognise symptoms, they don’t go for regular checks, they are not getting appropriate treatment, they have difficulty communicating, many don’t have family carers to support them and most GP’s write letters to them that they cannot read – so even when someone does get such a letter they do not attend.

At Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions CIC we have really really pushed from the outside to get people to have these appointments but when the door is closed its really hard. Ironically, the Dr is at least honest in not signing up to provide this service – so his 41 patients will get help by the NHS paying someone else to do it (skilled nurses from SEPFT or NELFT).

The more scandalous thing in Thurrock is that there are Dr’s who have signed up to do the checks and then don’t do them – this means the people with Learning Disability are not entitled to another NHS professional undertaking them (because there is a box ticked saying their Dr will do it); they are lost in no-mans land.

We can never get an accurate real time picture of what is happening – the Dr’s usually do not put their invoice in until late March. Hence we have only just found out that Thurrock had only 41% of its most vulnerable citizens being given an annual health check last year, yet the scientific evidence shows a check would help them live longer by identifying any issues earlier. So sad.

We are tired of fighting this battle for over five years now, we do see some good practice but there are some 270 people out there in Thurrock who haven’t had a check. Meanwhile we are caring for people who are terminally ill alongside some wonderful nurses, and we go to funerals.

The good Dr may well say we are just ‘anecdotal’ and ‘emotional’ – I too understand his business concerns; but he quotes £100 per health check and they are estimated to take about an hour. That’s more than most people earn in a day in the UK. So my Board have suggested that you kindly watch the film good Dr and maybe learn something about people with learning disabilities while we watch it and get angry and cry”

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