We need learning disability doctors | Letters

Janet Chambers and Michael Baron on the need for GPs specialising in the health and welfare requirements of people with intellectual disabilities

I would like to support the proposal for exploration of developing the role of a senior doctor specialising in the health and welfare needs of people with intellectual disabilities (A case for learning disability doctors, Letters, 27 July). I have a wide range of experience with people with ID/learning disability as a specialist speech and language therapist and now as a non-registered intermediary working with family and criminal courts; a brief canvass of colleagues working with people with ID across a variety of services all express the view that this is long overdue.

On average in the UK, people with a learning disability experience poorer health and healthcare than the rest of the population (Mencap 2019). It is timely for all professionals involved in the area of learning disability/ID to urge their professional bodies to lobby the government for at least a pilot project to be initiated.
Janet Chambers
Speech and language therapist, London

• Apropos the letters from Becky Jenner and Dr Kirsten Lamb (1 August). GPs take time to learn. When in March 1962 a group of parents formed what is now the National Autistic Society, few doctors had heard of autism but were – only slightly – more familiar with childhood psychosis or even juvenile schizophrenia. However, more than 50 years later, autism is both a worldwide disability and meaningless as well. The two go hand in hand. So stay with Rett’s syndrome.

Doctors will learn from you, Becky Jenner, as they learned from us. What we need now, given the years taken to train doctors, is more learning disability nurses. One at least in each NHS trust area; and trained to deal with the complex problems enumerated by Dr Lamb. Primary care needs to recognise that specialist support should be now, not never.
Michael Baron
Co-founder and chair, National Autistic Society

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