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DRC to launch disability investigation

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is to launch a new investigation into healthcare provision for people with learning disabilities and for people with mental health problems.

The organisation is concerned that people with mental health problems or learning difficulties have significantly worse health than the rest of the UK population and the investigation will focus on provision of primary care services, such as access to GPs.

The DRC will also investigate whether healthcare professionals are failing to recognise problems, or diagnosing them too late.

According to the DRC, people with learning disabilities are four times more likely to die as a result of a preventable condition, while people with diagnosed schizophrenia die an average of nine years before the rest of the population and people with learning disabilities are 58 times more likely to die before the age of 50.

The commission is also concerned that initial research suggests that fewer than 20 per cent of women with learning disabilities attend cervical screening and wants to determine the causes of the health divide. It will make recommendations about how inequalities can be reduced in 18 months' time.

DRC chairman, Bert Massie, warned: "Unless the inequalities between people with learning disabilities, people with mental health problems and non-disabled people are seriously addressed, we could find the gap widening."

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