What needs to happen now
Mencap’s Treat me well campaign has being working at transforming how the NHS treats people with a learning disability for nearly 3 years.
As well as continuing this important work, we are calling for the following areas of change.
Click each subject below to find out more about what we're asking for.
Guidance around healthcare during COVID-19 needs to specifically address the needs of people with a learning disability.
This must be addressed as part of the initial guidance, not once guidance has already been released.
Ambulance guidance must be clear that carers and advocates can accompany people with a learning disability to hospital.
DNACPRs must be reviewed and removed from the records of patients who did not give informed consent, or for whom proper decision making did not take place.
As well as being part of the law within the Equality Act 2010, reasonable adjustments are very important for people with a learning disability.
What people think is ‘reasonable’ may change when times are busy, but adjustments still need to be considered and made where possible. This can be a matter of life and death.
The government and national health bodies must share clear guidance about reasonable adjustments and use specific COVID examples to show how hospitals can make reasonable adjustments, even in a time of crisis.
An urgent review needs to take place of the equality of remote consultations (e.g. that take place over the phone or by video call).
This review should focus on people with a learning disability, as well as other vulnerable groups who may be excluded from accessing healthcare services, such as older people.
Learning from deaths
We need further action to understand why so many people with a learning disability have died during the pandemic and to stop this from happening in the future.
Longer term, the inquiry into the handling of the pandemic must look closely at why so many people with a learning disability died.
Lessons must be learned from this tragedy, so that mistakes are not made again.
The last few months have shown that healthcare is in desperate need of a culture shift, addressing how the healthcare system view people with a learning disability at times of crisis.
Training should be prioritised to make sure that all healthcare staff are confident in providing flexible, personalised care for people with a learning disability within their specialties.
The current trials of the Oliver McGowan mandatory training in learning disability and autism will be key in making this happen in England, and in Wales this will continue with the development of the Paul Ridd mandatory training.
The evidence from LeDeR and PHE shows that people with a learning disability have been disproportionately impacted by COVID.
The government must prioritise vaccination for people with a learning disability, who have died at over 6 times the rate of the general population.