Health inequalities and access to health care for adults with learning disabilities in Lincolnshire

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The NHS Constitution requires all NHS organisations to provide high-quality comprehensive services, based on clinical need, which do not discriminate between patients (DH 2010a). Together with its health and social care partners, the NHS also has a statutory duty of care to meet the needs of all patients with dignity and compassion. Recent evidence has revealed sharp failures in the NHS to meet these goals in relation to people with learning disabilities nationally. This article considers the well-established evidence that the latter group have worse health experiences and worse health outcomes than the population as a whole, which significantly contributes to marked inequalities both in morbidity and mortality. The public sector equality duty of the Equality Act 2010 imposes a statutory requirement on health and social care agencies to address such inequalities. This article draws on the first systematic health needs assessment (HNA) of adults with learning disabilities in the county of Lincolnshire, established in 2011 to identify their health needs and make recommendations for improvement.

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