Introduction Healthcare provision for people w ith learning disabilities has, until recently, received little attention. During the early part of this century, w hen a eugenic view prevailed, children w ith learning disabilities were often adm itted to longstay institutions and their heathcare needs were neglected. W ith the recent increase in public awareness of health issues, support from the G overnm ent w ith the publication of The Health of the Nation (Departm ent of Health 1995) and greater advocacy, there is now the potential for m uch needed change. At present, most causes of learning disabilities (e.g. chromosom e abnormalities or birth traum a) are untreatable. However, high-quality healthcare may reduce the impact of disabilities or handicaps and improve quality of life.