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Supporting people with learning disabilities to access cancer screening

8th February 2024

A man is creating a video case study focused on supporting people with learning disabilities.

Last Sunday was World Cancer Day, with the focus for 2024 on closing the care gap. You can find out more about the day here and watch their video which explains why closing the care gap is vital to improving health care for all.

At The Advocacy Project, we help people speak up and make decisions about their health, well-being and social care. As part of this, we work with people with learning disabilities and other organisations to identify health inequalities and reduce people’s barriers to healthcare.

10 million people die each year from cancer and we know that patients with learning disabilities have lower rates of cancer screening and lower life expectancy than those without. To save lives, there needs to be equitable access to cancer prevention, support and treatment.

Our projects in the boroughs of Westminster, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Brent aim to improve access to cancer screening for people with learning disabilities through identifying and reducing obstacles to screening and support services. We want to raise awareness and understanding of the risks of not attending screening appointments and make sure that those with learning disabilities are not disadvantaged and can be confident about what to expect from appointments. We also support healthcare providers to understand how to talk about what’s happening, and what to expect, in a way that is accessible to everyone.

The project supports better access to cancer screening services through the production and distribution of easy read resources, creating videos which tell positive screening stories from those who have accessed the services in the past, and using a peer support model to host face-to-face community events. We will create a suite of easy-read documents focused on NHS cancer-screening programmes which will be uploaded to our website once complete. These will include:

  • Signs of cancer and what to do if you are worried
  • Cervical screening
  • Breast screening
  • Bowel screening (including the Bowel screening home test (FIT) kit)

The project also works closely with carers, GPs and nurses to produce materials to support their work with people with learning disabilities who may need to access cancer support services.

If you are living or working in any of the three boroughs above and think you could benefit from our services or would like to find out more about partnering with us in this work, then please contact our Healthwatch Service Manager Ritushree Guha: or call on 020 8106 1474.