Intended for healthcare professionals


People with learning disabilities have lower life expectancy and cancer screening rates

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 25 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l404
  1. Jacqui Thornton
  1. London

Women with a learning disability in England have an average life expectancy of 65, GP data from NHS Digital have shown—18 years lower than those without.1

The inequality is greater in women than men. Men with a learning disability had an average life expectancy of 66 in 2017-18, compared with 80 in men without a recorded disability.

Patients with learning disabilities also had lower rates of cancer screening, most notably in cervical screening for women: only 31% had smear tests, compared with 73.2% of those without a learning disability.

Dan Scorer, head of policy at the UK charity Mencap, described the figures as “extremely …

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