Mencap welcomes the NHS finally accepting the importance of being completely open and transparent. 

However, until we hear strong evidence that patients with a learning disability and their families’ complaints are being taken seriously, and they are receiving the high quality care that they deserve, Mencap will continue to have "serious concerns". 

Commenting on the announcement, Beverly Dawkins OBE, specialist advisor for Mencap, said:

Recent research has shown that 1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably within the health service every year. This is the equivalent of three people dying needlessly every single day. We have worked with close to 100 families who have lost loved ones with a learning disability, supporting them to seek justice through the NHS complaints process, the inquest system and professional regulatory bodies, like the General Medical Council (GMC).

We welcome the Government’s announcement that they have accepted 281 out of the 290 recommendations of the Francis Inquiry, particularly the ‘duty of candour’ and calls for the NHS to be completely open and transparent. However, the real test is not the number of recommendations that the Government have accepted but how the NHS treats the next person with a learning disability who falls within its care. 

The current complaint system is not fit for purpose. Every week we continue to hear from more families whom the NHS has failed. We have serious concerns that these reforms lack the necessary bite to change this culture. Until this changes, the Department of Health is failing to ensure that people with a learning disability get the high quality health care they deserve.

People who have been victim of the failings of the NHS include Chas Pearce who lost his daughter Kirsty on 28 August 2003. She was just 17 years old and it took over 10 years with Chas fighting for eight years to get answers. 

In 2011, an Inquest finally took place and concluded serious medical failings in the care contributed to Kirsty’s death, however, the GMC have subsequently refused to re-open the case. 

Mary Sharp's daughter Lisa died in great distress from multi-organ failure on 7 February 2004 despite pleas from the family to provide better basic care, particularly around pain relief. Staff also failed to listen to Mary’s concerns about their lack of attention – such as when a drip inserted into her daughter’s arm was allowed to run dry. On another occasion a femoral line was dislodged and meant that Lisa ended up lying in blood.

- ENDS -

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or a case study, contact the Mencap Press Office, on 020 7696 5414 or media@mencap.org.uk.

About Mencap

There are 1.4 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.

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk