A case for learning disability doctors | Letter

Dr Ken Courtenay supports developing a role for doctors who are skilled in treating and supporting people with intellectual disabilities and complex health needs

As a psychiatrist and trained GP who works with people with intellectual disabilities (ID), I welcome Jeanne Carlin’s account of the care her daughter received from a Dutch physician trained in intellectual disabilities (Report, 24 July). She highlights the many benefits of being supported by a doctor skilled in treating and supporting people with ID and complex health needs.

Our faculty supports the exploration of developing such a role. Not only would it reduce the burden on GPs and support the work of learning disability nurses, it would potentially reduce the health inequalities faced by people with ID, who die over 20 years younger than the general population. Psychiatrists working with people with ID offer specialist care that helps to provide substantial improvements to many people’s quality of life. As a senior doctor who understands the complex health issues faced by people with ID, an ID physician could coordinate care through a range of medical specialists. This responsibility currently falls to overworked GPs, who do not have the time or extended expertise to manage the complex health needs of people with ID.
Dr Ken Courtenay
Chair of the faculty of psychiatry of intellectual disabilities, Royal College of Psychiatrists

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