The importance of annual health checks for people with a learning disability

  • 8 May 2024

Health outcomes and life expectancy for people with a learning disability


People with a learning disability often have poor physical and mental health outcomes. Their average  life expectancy is also lower than the national average. For people from ethnic minorities this is even worse. Their average age of death is just 34 years old, nearly half that of their white counterparts with a learning disability at 62 years old.  A review was published last year which identified poorer care and lower life expectancy for ethnic minorities with a learning disability.


What is an annual health check?

  • Anyone over the age of 14 with a learning disability can have an annual health check.
  • They need to be on the learning disability register before they can get an annual health check. Read more about what the learning disability register is on the Mencap website.
  • Getting on to the learning disability register and getting an annual health check is all done at the  the GP the person is registered with.
  • Getting an annual health check is important because it will help people with a learning disability stay healthy for  longer and pick up any health issues early, so they can be treated.
  • The person does not have to be ill to have an annual health check.
  • If the person needs extra support at their appointment they can ask their GP to make reasonable adjustments, such as a quiet space, longer appointments, bringing someone along with them or providing information in a way that is easy for them to understand.
  • The annual health checks will help the person to get to know their doctor better, so they can provide the right support.


What to expect during an annual health check

  • The GP will send a form before the appointment about the person’s health to help them to prepare for this.
  • The person may need to see the learning disability nurse first so they can check their weight and blood pressure. They may be asked to pee into a pot.
  • The person will see the doctor to go through the form to talk about their physical and mental health. They may talk about diet, exercise and sleep. They may make referrals to other health professionals.
  • At the end of the appointment a health action plan will be given to the person.
  • Each year the GP will invite the person back for their annual health check.

It is very important that people with a learning disability attend their annual health checks each year.

We have leaflets about annual health checks in easy read and translated into Arabic, Polish, Somali and Urdu, as well as English.

Annual Health Check leaflet Arabic

Annual Health Check leaflet English

Annual Health Check leaflet Polish

Annual Health Check leaflet Somali

Annual Health Check leaflet Urdu