Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

The COVID pandemic deepened the barriers to accessing healthcare that people with a learning disability have long faced, and today’s report from the Learning Disability Mortality Review highlights these devastating and long-standing inequalities once again.  

“The report shows people with a learning disability are dying 25 years younger than the general population [i], and are three times more likely to die avoidably. Recent cases have also highlighted the ongoing institutional discrimination against people with a learning disability, such as the story of Laura Booth who died in hospital of causes including malnutrition.’  

 “There are also shocking inequalities faced by people from minority ethnic communities - people with a learning disability who are Asian or Asian British are eight times more likely to die in early adulthood than people from white British backgrounds. 

“And - with the government due to respond to the Care Quality Commission’s report into the use of Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions during the pandemic - today's report sets out further cause for concern, showing an increase in inappropriate DNACPR decisions in 2020. 

It's vital that the Government and the NHS urgently address the recommendations set out in today's report, and the independent COVID inquiry must also investigate the causes behind the high death rate of people with a learning disability during the pandemic - and set out actions to create real change.”

Read the full report here.


For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on: media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).         

Notes to editors:   

[i] University of Bristol (2021) University of Bristol LeDeR annual report 2020

Data from LeDeR’s report suggests that in 2018-2019, the disparity between the median age at death for people with a learning disability (age 4 years and over) and the general population (all ages) was 23 years for males and 27 years for females.

About Mencap     

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want: www.mencap.org.uk       

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email helpline@mencap.org.uk.         

What is a learning disability?    

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;    
  • Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.