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Health and healthcare of people with learning disabilities in the United Kingdom through the COVID-19 pandemic

Hatton, Chris, Hastings, Richard P., Caton, Sue, Bradshaw, Jill, Jahoda, Andrew, Kelly, Rosemary, Maguire, Roseann, Oloidi, Edward, Taggart, Laurence, Todd, Stuart and others. (2024) Health and healthcare of people with learning disabilities in the United Kingdom through the COVID-19 pandemic. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 52 (2). pp. 260-271. ISSN 1354-4187. E-ISSN 1468-3156. (doi:10.1111/bld.12578) (KAR id:104624)

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During the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, many health services were withdrawn from people with learning disabilities, with negative impacts on people's health. What has happened to people's health and healthcare as we move beyond the pandemic?


Access to health services and health status were tracked for 550 UK adults with learning disabilities, using structured online interviews with people with learning disabilities and online surveys with family members or paid carers. Information was provided four times, from Wave 1 (in the winter 2020/2021 ‘lockdown’) to Wave 4 (autumn 2022, over a year after public health protections stopped).


By Wave 4, most people with learning disabilities had had COVID-19, although high vaccination rates limited the number of people hospitalised. There was little evidence that use of GP services, community nurses, other therapists or annual health checks had increased over time, and at Wave 4 more people were having difficulty getting their medicines. People's health did not substantially improve over time. People with profound and multiple learning disabilities had poorer health and were less likely to be accessing health services.


Improvements in access to health services for people with learning disabilities after the pandemic have not yet happened.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/bld.12578
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
Uncontrolled keywords: health; health and social care policy and practice; learning (intellectual) disabilities
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Tizard
Funders: Medical Research Council (
National Institute for Health Research (
UK Research and Innovation (
Depositing User: Jill Bradshaw
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2024 21:52 UTC
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 13:46 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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