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People with intellectual disabilities often not told about their medicines and side effects

The 1.5m people in the UK with an intellectual disability experience significant health inequality. Research shows that they are more likely to develop health problems than the general population, they are more likely to have reduced access to healthcare, and they are more likely to receive poorer care.

A 2018 report from the Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme found that people with intellectual disabilities also die a lot younger. On average, men die 23 years earlier and women die 27 years earlier compared with the general population. 

Our latest study adds to the evidence of these health inequalities. It shows that many people with intellectual disability, who can make decisions about their everyday life, aren’t given clear information about their medication. As a result, they often don’t understand the drugs prescribed for them or their potential side effects.

The Accessible Information Standard states that all organisations providing NHS care and publicly funded adult social care must ensure that people with intellectual disability receive information in an accessible format, for example, in easy-read material or pictures. Critically, this also applies to medicines. There are now legal consequences for those who don’t comply. 

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