Health watchdog report is a “missed opportunity”
Wednesday 12 October 2011
Mencap criticises a Parliamentary and Heath Service Ombudsman report on its approach to disability discrimination
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has, today (Wednesday 12 October), published a report on complaints about disability issues in relation to healthcare.
The report addresses how the Ombudsman’s office approaches cases involving disability discrimination in the NHS. It states that the role of the Ombudsman is not to pass judgement on matters of disability discrimination law or to determine whether the law has been breached. The Ombudsman adds that this is a matter for the courts.
“We believe the Ombudsman has an important role in ensuring that health professionals respect the rights of people with a learning disability,” said David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy. “This was a missed opportunity to send a clear message to all health professionals that poor standards of care for people with a learning disability will not be tolerated within the health service.
“Since Mencap's ‘Death by indifference’ report was published, a lot of positive steps have been taken within the health service. However, if health professionals are not challenged to make reasonable adjustments and to stop discriminating against people with a learning disability, poor care and treatment and avoidable deaths will continue unchecked.”
Mencap will challenge the Ombudsman’s approach via judicial review in November. The charity is concerned that individuals will not want to take their complaint to the Ombudsman if this fundamental issue is not addressed.
The report follows the 'Six Lives' report, published two years ago, by the Ombudsman. 'Six Lives' responded to Mencap’s 2007 ‘Death by indifference’ report, which detailed the tragic deaths of six people with a learning disability. Mencap believes that they died needlessly while in NHS care.
Mencap welcomed much of the Ombudsman’s original report into their deaths, which found unacceptable levels of care and highlighted a catalogue of incidents of neglect and ignorance.
Find out more about Mencap’s 'Death by indifference' report