Sheffield Mencap and Gateway are collaborating with the NHS on the delivery of a range of health services to support adults and children aged 14+ with learning disabilities access health care.

Annual Health Checks

An Annual Health Check (AHC) should be carried out once a year by a healthcare professional and will take a closer look at an individual’s health. These appointments are important as typically people with a learning disability have worse health than people without a learning disability and are more likely to experience a number of health conditions. Attending an Annual Health Check will reduce health inequalities between those with and without a learning disability.

  • AHCs are available for most people aged 14 and older with a learning disability
  • AHCs are preventative. They mean any problems or worries can be dealt with quickly
  • AHCs are a good way for people to get to know their doctor better, and for doctors to find out more about the individuals needs and preferences

Annual Health Checks for Children aged 14+

We are working with the Integrated Care Board (ICB) to deliver a new pilot service that supports children to have an Annual Health Check whilst at school.

We recognise that there can be many challenges to face when getting your child to a medical appointment. Parent/carers have let us know that children can struggle with a fear of doctors and fatigue from attending multiple appointments. There are the practical challenges of securing a GP appointment, getting to appointments, children missing school, parents having t take time away from other responsibilities… the list goes on. We are hoping this service will support children to get an Annual Health Check through a simple, safe system that takes the pressure off families.

The service will operate by:

  • Linking with schools across Sheffield to provide information to families.
  • Parents/carers complete an application form and either return to school or submit online.
  • Sheffield Mencap’s Health Team will review applications and, together with local GP surgeries and specialist nurses, arrange for children’s Annual Health. Check to be carried out at school. Parents/carers will be informed and may attend if they wish.
  • Children will be supported throughout the appointment process and come home with a Health Action Plan.
  • Our Health Team are available throughout to offer any support or answer any queries.

If you are interested in this project but we are not yet working with your school, please complete this form to apply: AHC School Pilot Application Form


Vaccinations are a safe and effective way to reduce your chance of catching common communicable diseases, and can reduce the severity of symptoms if you do catch them. Covid, flu and pneumonia can be extremely serious for people with a learning disability, many of whom are classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’. Most people with a learning disability are entitled to these vaccinations through their GP surgery. We will work with each individual to give them all the information and support they need to keep safe and well by ensuring their vaccines are up-to-date.

How can we help you?

  • Answer any questions you have about Annual Health Checks
  • Answer any questions you have about vaccinations for covid, flu or pneumonia
  • Book appointments at a convenient time and place
  • Support with transport to the appointment
  • Support during the appointment
  • Help setting up home visits or online appointments
  • Make sure any reasonable adjustments or extra support are put in place at appointments
  • Support with any follow-up appointments or information (Health Action Plans)

If you would like to apply for support with an Annual Health Check or vaccination, please contact us or download and return our referral form here.

More Information

A video created by our members to help health professionals support them effectively

Health Passports

Everybody with a learning disability and/or autism should have a Health Passport. This document should make sure that the care received in hospital or other healthcare setting meets your individual needs and preferences.

A Health Passport makes sure any staff that support you know about your healthcare, your learning disability, how you like to communicate and how to make things easier for you. You can carry your hospital passport and show it to healthcare staff at a hospital or other healthcare setting. It can help you to get the care you need in an easier to understand way

You can find out more information about Health Passports here. We also run sessions on Health Passports, for people with a learning disability/autism and their carers. These sessions will support you to complete your Health Passport and make sure it is shared with the right people.

You can download up-to-date Health Passport templates here.

Book your place on a Health Passport workshop here.

Learning Disability Nurse Support

Sheffield Mencap and Gateway has a specilaist Learning Disability Nurse on-site to support people with a learning disability to understand how they can stay healtyhy, understand and access healthcare. The nurse also supports healthcare professionals through delivering training, raising awareness and ensuring the learning disability community are represented at forums across Sheffield.

Suport available for individuals:

  • Deliver workshops around health services (for people with learning disabilities and autism and/or their carers)
    • Health Passports
    • Reasonable adjustments
    • Vaccinations
  • Provide easy read health documents
  • Preparation for screenings and other medical appointments
  • Promote healthy lifestyles and prevent illness

Support available for healthcare professionals:

  • Provide support, education, training, guidance and leadership to help improve health outcomes for people with a learning disability/autism, across key health and social care settings, with a focus on porimary care
  • Support GP practices to increase the quantity and quality of learning disability Annual Health Checks and Health Action Plans
  • Information sharing and collaboration between primary and secondary care on learning disability Annual Health Checks
  • Promotion of wellbeing and prevention of ill-health
  • Training on the importance, completion and use of Health Passports
  • Help to improve uptake for screening programmes, vaccinations and other health care, through education, practical support, guidance and implementation of reasonable adjustments
  • Provide support with the most effective delivery of Annual Health Checks
  • Advise and provide support around reasonable adjustments needed to complete Annual Health Checks, and any follow ups from Healtyh Action Plans
  • Liaise with NHS screening and other specialist services to ensure accessibility

Meet the Team

Emma Ferguson

Emma Ferguson has worked with adults and children with learning disabilities and autism for over 6 years. She gained her degree in Learning Disability Nursing in 2019 and has worked in hospitals in York, Manchester, London and Sheffield. Since 2022 Emma has combined nursing with her work at Sheffield Mencap and Gateway, leading groups for children and adults.

In July 2023 Emma became the resident Learning Disability Nurse at Sheffield Mencap and Gateway. She supports healthcare professionals to improve services and access for people with learning disabilities/autism.

Emma is dedicated to her work within healthcare and supporting people with learning disabilities/autism and is excited to use her skills to improve health outcomes.

Emma is based at Sheffield Mencap and Gateway on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sharmistha Bal

Sharmistha has worked with adults and children with learning disabilities and autism for over 6 years. She became the co-ordinatpor for Sheffield Mencap and Gateway’s health projects in July 2021 and since then has supported over 300 people with learning disabilities to attend their Annual Health Check.

Last year Sheffield had 85% of Annual Health Checks completed, exceeding the NHS target of 75%. Sharmistha has spoken about her work at national NHS conferences and is passionate about reducing health inequalities and breaking down barriers that people with learning disabilities/autism face in accessing health care.

Sharmistha works on our health projects on  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning.