People with learning disabilities are routinely neglected or even denied their dignity by healthcare providers, the findings of a new study suggest.
A survey by Mencap found that around half of doctors and nurses agreed that patients with learning difficulties receive worse healthcare than the rest of the population.
Four in ten went so far as to say that they believe this group of patients are discriminated against within the NHS, despite legislation being in place to ensure that this is not the case.
The charity's research also found that many doctors and nurses are keen to receive more and better training in treating patients with learning difficulties, for example through making better use of 'health passport' documents that set out a patient's likes, dislikes and preferred method of communication.
"Healthcare professionals have recognised they need more support to get it right when treating people with a learning disability," noted Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring.
According to the charity's own figures, the number of people living with a learning disability within the UK now stands at around 1.5 million.