Skip to main content

Health Inequalities & People with Learning Disabilities in the UK: 2012

Learning disability refers to a significant general impairment in intellectual functioning that is acquired during childhood. In England approximately 1.2 million people have learning disabilities. It has been estimated that between 20% and 33% of people with learning disabilities known to local authorities also have an autistic spectrum disorder. Recent research has suggested that 55% of children aged 10-14 who had a current diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder also had learning disabilities.

People with learning disabilities have poorer health than their non-disabled peers, differences in health status that are, to an extent, avoidable. As such, these differences represent health inequalities

The health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities in the UK start early in life and result, to an extent, from barriers they face in accessing timely, appropriate and effective health care. The inequalities evident in access to health care are likely to place many NHS Trusts in England in contravention of their legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010. They are also likely to be in contravention under international law of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to fail to fulfil obligations following the signing by the UK of the European Declaration on the Health of Children and Young People with Intellectual Disabilities and their Families and the Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health.