Mencap have released a report that says that due to inadequate and unequal healthcare people with a learning disability are dying when their lives could be saved.
In 2007, following the deaths of six people with a learning disability in NHS care, Mencap published Death by indifference which exposed the unequal healthcare and institutional discrimination that people with learning disabilities often experience within the NHS. Death by indifference played an important role in influencing the Department of Health to commission the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with a learning disability.
Mencap found that over 1200 people with learning disabilities die each year through unacceptable treatment in the NHS. These appalling statistic comes from research that Mencap commissioned from Professors Glover and Emerson of the Improving Health and Lives Learning Disabilities Observatory. Their research found that 1,238 children and adults die each year across England because they do not get the right healthcare.
On 19 March 2013, the Confidential Inquiry published the findings of its two year investigation. In total, the Inquiry examined the factors leading up to the deaths of 247 people with a learning disability aged four or older, who died between 1 June 2010 and 31 May 2012 in the South West of England.
It found that 37% of deaths of people with a learning disability were avoidable.
Over the past decade, families and carers have reported 85 deaths of people with a learning disability to Mencap. They have told us that hospital blunders, poorly trained staff and indifference are to blame for their loved ones’ death. The findings of the Inquiry confirm this and fears that people with a learning disability are still not receiving equal healthcare in all NHS settings and are continuing to die as a result.
Mencap strongly supports all the recommendations of the Confidential Inquiry. People with a learning disability have a right to receive the same quality of healthcare as anyone else. We welcome and join the Confidential Inquiry’s call for the establishment of a National Learning Disability Mortality Review Body in England to continue monitoring deaths of people with a learning disability in the NHS. We believe that lessons must be learned from the findings and implemented throughout the NHS as a matter of urgency.
You can download Mencap’s briefing on the findings of the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with a learning disability here.
It’s disgraceful that in the UK a human being who is unfortunate enough to have a learning disability also stands a chance of dying because of neglectful healthcare due to their impairment. Their families not only have the grief of losing a loved one but the gut wrenching feeling that it could have been avoided.