The government is urging women with learning disabilities to share their experiences of the health and care system, in a bid to tackle inequalities.
A call for evidence has been launched this week with the aim to shape the first government-led Women’s Health Strategy to improve health and wellbeing and ensure health services are meeting the needs of women.
There are around 1.2 million people with a learning disability in England, many of whom experience health inequalities as a result of their condition, as well as having common associated health conditions including mental health problems, dementia, epilepsy, and being underweight or overweight.
According to one study, women with a learning disability die, on average, 27 years earlier than those without.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said: “The healthcare system needs to work for everyone, including and especially for those who perhaps need that bit of extra support in life.
“We know people with learning disabilities have a shorter life expectancy than the general population, and this is especially true for women. I want to make sure we address the inequalities which exist within society and by making this call for evidence more accessible we are opening up the possibilities for more voices to be heard.
“I would urge all women to come forward and share their experience and contribute to the Women’s Health Strategy to help shape a health and care system that works for us all.”
An easy-to-read version of the call for evidence has been created to help people with learning difficulties understand the information.
Patricia Charlesworth, Learning Disability England spokesperson and self advocate said: “We welcome the accessible information that will make it easier for women with learning disabilities to take part. Women with learning disabilities die often preventable, deaths up to 27 years sooner than the general population. It is important that our voice is heard and action is taken to stop us dying before our time.”
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