Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The NHS has released its latest set of statistics showing people with learning disabilities still have a shorter life expectancy than the general population, despite some of the causes of death being premature and preventable.

This report 'Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities, Experimental Statistics: 2018 to 2019' examines trends in key health issues for people who have a learning disability according to their GP records. NHS Digital looked at data from participating practices, which amounts to around 54% of people in England with a learning disability and investigates rates of mortality, life expectancy, and prevalence of certain health conditions. It also contains information on how this data compares to that of people without a recorded learning disability.

The key findings are:

  • People with a learning disability aged between 0 to 74 years were on average four times more likely to die in the period between 2016 to 2019 than people in the general population in the same sex and age group.
  • Males with a learning disability have a life expectancy at birth of 66 years, which is 14 years lower than for males in the general population.
  • Females with a learning disability have a life expectancy of 67 years, which is 17 years lower than females without a learning disability.
  • There has been no statistically significant change in life expectancy for patients with a learning disability between 2014-15 and 2018-19.

The report revealed that epilepsy was 26 times more common in people with a learning disability than would be expected for people in the general population in the same age and sex group without a learning disability. The prevalence rates for hypertension, asthma and type II diabetes have all seen a significant increase since the 2017-18 data was collected. The report also showed that statistically, if you have a learning disability you are less likely to get checked for some types of cancer.

You can read the full report on the NHS Digital’s website here.