Letter: GPs with talking difficulties

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The Independent Online
Sir: We welcome the report from Mencap highlighting the failings in GPs' care for people with learning difficulties ("GPs ill-prepared for patients with learning difficulties", 23 June).

The King's Fund's work with people with learning difficulties shows that many of them are not receiving the preventive health care from doctors that they deserve. This is not necessarily the doctors' fault, since communicating with people who may not be able to speak is a complex skill. Additional problems of confidentiality arise when adults with learning difficulties need a carer or a parent to sit in on the consultation.

At the King's Fund we suggest that medical training should include how to deal with this special group; that there should be a standard set of symbols for doctors to use in their practices and that preventive health care checks should be carried out as a matter of course for people with learning difficulties as they are for other distinct groups such as older people.

There should also be support to all primary healthcare staff to work in partnership with people to improve the quality of their lives.


Project Manager

Day Service Design

King's Fund

London W1