Annual health checks

People with a learning disability often have poorer physical and mental health than other people.  An annual health check can improve people’s health by spotting problems earlier.

Annual health checks during coronavirus

In order to reduce the risk of increased unnecessary deaths in people with a learning disability during the coronavirus outbreak it is essential that annual health checks continue to be carried out.

This easy read letter, which has been developed with people with lived experience, can be adapted to help explain to people with a learning disability and their family and carers that the way health checks are carried out may have changed.

Learning disability services in Hertfordshire have produced this useful pathway to completing annual heath checks during the coronavirus pandemic.

What happens at an annual health check?

People with a learning disability can sometimes find it hard to know when they are unwell, or to tell someone about it.  A health check once a year gives people time to talk about anything that is worrying them and means they can get used to going to visit the doctor.

To find out more you can watch an annual health check video from the NHS website.

Who can have an annual health check?

Anyone over the age of 14 with a learning disability, can have an annual health check. Children would usually see a different doctor until they are 14 years old.

How do I get an annual health check?

To have an annual health check your doctor needs to know you have learning disability.  Watch this video which we have made with Mencap to tell you how to make sure you don’t miss out on your health check.

Annual health check exemplars

Earlier this year we asked NHS organisations across the country to put themselves forward to become learning disability exemplars. The role of the exemplars will be to look at how care can be made better so that people with a learning disability can live healthier and happier lives.

The organisations will increase annual health checks by:

  • Bringing together the NHS, local authorities and self-advocacy groups or experts by experience to look at some of the complex issues which we know affect the health of people with a learning disability
  • Work with partner organisations to understand more about how services could be changed to help people with a learning disability to live healthier and happier lives
  • Look at ways of making sure people with a learning disability are on a GP learning disability register so that they get the care and treatment they need at the right time
  • Sharing what they have learnt and what is working well with other health and social care organisations.

Nine CCGs have been appointed as exemplars and they are beginning their work to look at how to increase annual health checks in their area.

Annual health checks in secondary care

The NHS Long Term Plan set an ambition that by 2023/24, at least 75% of people aged 14+ with a learning disability will have had an annual health check. Performance in 2020-21 has been impacted by multiple factors, particularly COVID-19 and it is important to consider other novel ways of improving both uptake and quality.

We are calling for local community and specialist learning disability service providers and other teams across the country to develop local pilots. The pilots should showcase the opportunity for new and creative ways of working at a systemwide or CCG level and demonstrate the specific contribution that community or specialist providers can make in supporting local annual health check arrangements which would lead to increased uptake and support improved quality of annual health checks for people with a learning disability.

The ambition is that pilot sites will work in collaboration with their local stakeholders to deliver health improvements via the annual health check process. Delivery of annual health checks are the responsibility of individual GP practices in primary care and this project aims to build on, and not to detract or undermine, these principles.

To find out more about the project you can download the following documents:

Slides from the webinar held on 29 June 2021 are available.

Expressions of interest should be received no later than 10am on Wednesday 28 July.

If you would like further information about this bid opportunity please email:

Bid Invitation: learning disability and autism children and young people annual health check co-produced resources

The NHS Long Term Plan set an ambition that by 2023/24, at least 75% of people aged 14 or over with a learning disability will have had an annual health check.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the health inequalities for those with a learning disability. Therefore, it is important to look for innovative ways of improving uptake and quality of the annual health checks (AHC) process from the age of 14, instilling good habits early on and encouraging young people to look after their health.

We are looking for a provider to co-produce information, materials and resources with children and young people from diverse backgrounds to promote the importance of AHCs and associated processes.

The aim of the project is to better understand children and young people’s experiences of having an annual health check or visiting their GP, with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of AHCs offered, and taken up by, young people aged 14 to 19 with a learning disability in England.


To explore the views of children and young people aged 14 to 19 years with a learning disability and support them to co-design communications and materials that will:

  • help them access and feel more comfortable to attend an AHC face to face or virtually
  • help them better understand the AHC process and what happens during an AHC
  • help them better understand the benefits and importance in relation to their health and wellbeing
  • increase the likelihood of them attending an AHC when offered
  • help them to understand the importance of any subsequent health action plan and the recommendations and actions it includes
  • raise awareness amongst children and young people with a learning disability, their families and allied professionals in education, social care and health working alongside them
  • explain how an annual health check is different to an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

To find out more about the project and apply, please download and complete the Bid invitation form.

Expressions of interest should be received no later than 5pm on Friday 17 September

Information for health and social care staff

We are working with partners to get more people on their GPs learning disability register.

This will mean that more people will have a health check and get the care that they need.

To make sure this happens there has been an increase in the payment available for GPs providing annual health checks the introduction of a national health check template.

National health check template

The template has been produced on three of the main GP clinical systems. It is available on EMISWeb and on Vision now and the template for TPP System One is in its final stages and will be available soon.

If you use different GP system software please visit the NHS Employers resources to view the national template in Word version and with EMIS screenshots

Emis users

The template is in EMIS Library > Primary Care Templates > Learning Disabilities HCAP

The template is active, the protocol is inactive.

The protocol – To activate the protocol, you need to go into the templates manager and then navigate to EMIS Library > EMIS Protocols > DES Protocols Its in as Health Check Action Plan Launch and Print Protocol. Right click on it, select Status and click activate, it will then be available to add to your F12 menu 

Vision users

For Vision users instructions for downloading templates are found on the Vision website.

Royal College of General Practitioners – toolkit for doctors

The health checks for people with learning disabilities toolkit is aimed at helping GPs and practice nurses carry out the health check to a high standard and make sure that people with a learning disability get timely access to the healthcare they need in the right place, at the right time.

Better health for people with a learning disability: what social care staff need to know about GP learning disability registers, Annual Health Checks and the Summary Care Record – this guidance document and accompanying film was developed by NDTi and VODG and is designed to support social care providers who want to improve the health and therefore the lives of the people they support.

Summary care record

Another way to help patients with a learning disability is by asking for their consent to add additional information to their summary care record.