Action to tackle learning disability premature deaths in North Yorkshire

County Hall, Northallerton.

Action has been launched to reduce health inequalities which see North Yorkshire men and women with learning disabilities die 13 years and 20 years earlier than others, a meeting has heard.

North Yorkshire County Council’s care and independence scrutiny committee heard while many people with learning disabilities had conditions that would lead to premature deaths, work was under way to ensure they receive the health care they require in a timely way.

Councillors were told a new programme of works was starting that would see the 2,300 people registered as learning disabled in the county offered annual health checks. Those people have a moderate to severe learning disability and will be likely to need services from the authority and the NHS.

However, due to the way the information is recorded it is believed that figure is an underestimate of the actual number of people with learning disabilities – it has been estimated there are more than 11,300 residents in the county with a learning disability aged 18 to 85. By 2030, the number of learning disabled residents is expected to rise by more than 500.

The committee’s chairman, Councillor Karin Sedgwick said further work was needed to get more people with learning disabilities registered.

She said: “North Yorkshire is the first local authority to have all 17 of its adult services accredited, so is doing well with the services it provides for people with learning disabilities. However, we can’t bring the early deaths figure down if people are not registering with doctors.”

The meeting heard since assessment staff throughout adult social care were supporting adults with learning disabilities, to encourage them to maintain maximum independence in their day to day lives.

In addition, the council has introduced new support for young people transitioning from children’s to adult social care following issues being identified over providing “the right support, from the right professional at the right time”, to prepare the young person for adulthood.

Cllr Sedgwick said the authority may investigate the possibility of launching an initiative similar to its dementia-friendly venture, in which partners across the county would work together to make it a place where people can live well with autism.