Health checks by GPs 'should cover mental health'

Health checks at GP practices should include mental health assessments 'as a matter of routine' to boost support for people with autism and learning disabilities, experts have warned.

Consultation: GP health checks should cover mental health
Consultation: GP health checks should cover mental health

People with autism and learning disabilities suffer a 'double whammy' because they have an above average need for mental health support but find it more difficult than many other patients to access the help they need, according to the NHS Confederation's mental health network.

The concerns were identified in a study commissioned by the network, and have fed into a report calling on commissioners and providers to improve care for these patients.

The report calls for health checks at GP practices to routinely cover mental health, and for appointment times and durations to be adjusted to suit people with autism or learning disabilities.

It calls for information on mental health services to be made more widely available in accessible formats.

The network's interim director Paddy Cooney said: 'Public sector bodies are legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to make sure their services are as accessible and effective for people with any protected characteristic, including learning disabilities or autism.

'But our researchers found that while there are some excellent examples of where mental health services are helping people with a learning disability or autism, these are not yet common across England.'

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