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Changing the poor take-up of annual health checks for minority communities

After the lockdown I am back at MVDA working on a project to encourage the take-up of Annual Health Checks (AHCs) by those with learning disabilities from ethnic minority communities in Middlesbrough and Stockton-On-Tees

The project’s aim of getting more people from different communities to attend their GP surgery for a check-up would seem straightforward, but this belies and points to structural and individual barriers against this happening.

All people with learning disabilities over 14 years are entitled to an Annual Health Check (AHC) at their GP surgery. These health checks are designed to pick up a wide range of unmet health needs and have been introduced because his group have poorer health and die younger than others partly as a result of poorer understanding of physical changes and problems that indicate illnesses or conditions that could be treated and of how to get help from health services.

There is poor take-up of AHCs in general and greater for those from minority communities. MVDA and Catalyst in Stockton are working together on a short programme of work (with NHS England funds) that will support an increase in those with a learning disability from ethnic minority communities accessing AHCs and receiving flu jabs.

Catalyst is undertaking ‘process mapping’ that will allow a visual representation of this work and will show what is happening in the clinical and social pathways. This will enable the location of areas or problems that need to be investigated further to be identified. A number of workshops will be organised with representation from GP surgeries, appropriate service providers and community groups. These will work in detail to identify the main process problems.

Learning from the workshops will be piloted in a number of GP Practices that have been identified at the start of the process to review and evaluate.

A small working group will come together periodically to look at any issues that might arise and adjust and a report and presentation will be shared with other GP practices.

MVDA, through myself, is leading on desk-top research into what needs to be done both across primary care and the wider health system in changing methods of service delivery and in communicating and engaging with the different ethnic minority communities. This will lead to working with these communities, groups and Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCOs) to verify that the findings of the desktop research are actually experienced and/or whether other barriers or issues need to be considered.

If you have a learning disability and are from an ethnic minority, or a parent/carer, or work with this group of people then please get in touch with me as I am keen to hear about your experiences living in Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees and accessing AHCs.

My contact details are below and due to the ongoing Covid-19 infection rates then a phone call or Zoom call will be necessary.

Thank you for your help.

Craig Duerden

Strategic Development Officer

Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency (MVDA)

tel: 01642 357855

mobile: 07487265975 email: craig.duerden@mvdauk.org.uk 

(please note my working days are Monday to Thursday)

Craig Duerden


In February 2007 Craig joined the Planning & Partnership team with a focus on Health & Social Care.  He left MVDA in 2010 and re-joined us in August 2014 as Strategic Development Officer.  He is currently acting as the partnership manager for both the Middlesbrough Carers Partnership and Middlesbrough Mental Health Partnership as well as leading MVDA’s work around VCS intelligence and supporting the Health and Wellbeing VCS Forum.