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Mencap report finds NHS still unsafe for people with a learning disability
Wednesday 15 February 2012
Mencap is calling on the Government to make the NHS safe for people with a learning disability following the publication of a new report Death byindifference: 74 deaths and counting, which finds continued institutional discrimination in the NHS.
- Annual health checks to become a permanent part of the GP contract to ensure early detection of health conditions
- All health professionals to act within the law and get training around their obligations under the Equality Act and Mental Capacity Act so that they can put this into practice when treating patients with a learning disability
- Regulatory bodies such as the CQC, GMC and Nursing Midwifery Council to conduct rigorous investigations and deliver appropriate sanctions where health professionals clearly failed in their obligations to patients with a learning disability
- The NHS complaints process to be overhauled. It is not fit for purpose. It is time consuming and defensive and does not enable the NHS to learn important lessons quickly enough to prevent further deaths
- Acute Liaison Nurses to be employed by every acute service, linked to senior leadership, who have a strategic role in supporting ward staff to make reasonable adjustments
- A standard hospital passport is made available to all people with a learning disability.
The report contained evidence that people with a learning disability were dying unnecessarily due to institutional discrimination in the NHS. Death by indifference contained six cases where people with a learning disability had died unnecessarily due to widespread ignorance and neglect within the NHS. As a result of Death by indifference an independent inquiry was carried out by Sir Jonathan Michael, which makes strong recommendations for change to give people with a learning disability equal healthcare. The Health Ombudsman also reported on the six cases via her Six Lives report. In 2009 the Department of Health published its three year strategy for learning disability services in England.www.mencap.org.uk/deathbyindifference
- Make sure that hospital passports are available and used
- Make sure that all of our staff understand and apply the principles of mental capacity laws
- Appoint a learning disability liaison nurse in our hospital/s
- Provide ongoing learning disability awareness training for all staff
- Listen to, respect and involve families and carers
- Provide practical support and information to families and carers
- Provide information that is accessible for people with a learning disability
- Display the Getting it Right principles for everyone to see
We are also the largest service provider of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. See www.mencap.org.uk for more information
About learning disability
People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complex information and interact with other people the level of support someone needs depends on individual factors, including the severity of their learning disability.