FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 14 December 2009
People With Learning Disabilities get the Chance to Speak Up about Eyecare
An inquiry into eye care services for people with learning disabilities is top of the agenda for The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Eye Health and Visual Impairment and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Learning Disability in January 2010.
1 in 3 people with a learning disability has a sight problem yet this group is least likely to get the help they need, according to SeeAbility, formerly The Royal School for the Blind. Paula Spinks-Chamberlain, SeeAbility Director of Information and Advisory Services says,
“SeeAbility launched the eye 2 eye Campaign in 2005 because people with learning disabilities were not getting the eye care that they need. Pilot projects have helped in some parts of the country, but we view the All-Party Parliamentary Groups Inquiry as a major breakthrough that could put eye care for people with learning disabilities at the top of the national agenda.”
The Inquiry will investigate:
- The number of people with a learning disability who have sight problems and the sight problems that they have.
- Why it is important for people with learning disabilities to have good vision and eye health.
- Whether people with learning disabilities have regular sight tests and if not, why not.
- If people with learning disabilities find it difficult to access community NHS eye care services and barriers to access.
- How eye care services could be improved for this group.
Currently the NHS sight test of around 30 minutes does not provide sufficient time or flexibility to test people with severe or profound learning disabilities.
Speaking at the launch of the Inquiry, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Eye Health and Visual Impairment Sandra Gidley MP (Liberal Democrat, Romsey) said:
“1 in 3 people with a learning disability have some form of visual impairment, yet many of these vulnerable people have never had a sight test. This inquiry will examine why this group of people, who have a high risk of sight problems, are not getting the eye care they deserve. We hope to identify solutions and educate policy makers and health and social care professionals about this issue and encourage action to be taken.”
– ENDS –
Issued by SeeAbility. For further information please contact:
Monica Cornforth on 020 8997 1261 or 07811 147 192
NOTES TO EDITORS
- The Inquiry will involve up to two oral evidence sessions.
- Evidence will be given by interested parties including people with learning disabilities, professionals, Department of Health representatives and representatives of PCTs.
Deadline for written evidence 22 January
Deadline for submissions from those giving oral evidence 12 January 2010
Inquiry on 19th January 2010 tbc
Short report on initial findings by early March.
- There are an estimated 210,000 people with severe and profound learning disabilities in England: around 65,000 children and young people, 120,000 adults of working age and 25,000 older people – Valuing People, Department of Health (2001)
- Better health for people with learning disabilities is a key priority in the Government’s latest strategy, ‘Valuing People Now’: “There is clear evidence that most people with learning disabilities have poorer health than the rest of the population and are more likely to die at a younger age. Their access to the NHS is often poor.”
- SeeAbility is the operating name for The Royal School for the Blind, a national charity which has for over 200 years provided support for people who are blind or partially sighted and have additional disabilities.
- SeeAbility currently provides a range of services in; Birmingham, Bristol, Devon, East Sussex, Hampshire, Humberside, London, Sheffield, Somerset, Surrey and West Sussex.
- SeeAbility offers a wide range of specialised residential, community and rehabilitation services for people with a visual impairment and additional disabilities. Our aim is to provide each individual with the support they need to develop essential life skills for greater independence and a fulfilling life.
- SeeAbility’s eye 2 eye Campaign, a community-based initiative, is improving eye care and vision for people with a learning disability.
- Look-Up www.lookupinfo.org provides information and advice on eye care and vision for people with learning disabilities.
- SeeAbility’s Central Office is based in Epsom, Surrey. For further information call 01372 755000 or visit www.seeability.org