Mencap dismayed by lack of progress to stop avoidable deaths of people with a learning disability

mencap_logoYesterday evening (18 September) the Department of Health published their one year progress report on addressing premature deaths of people with a learning disability in the health service. Mencap is seriously concerned by the unacceptable lack of progress in many areas, and is calling on the Government to commit to progressing vital changes that we know will stop people with a learning disability dying avoidably in the NHS.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said:

“Today’s report shows an unacceptable lack of progress in tackling the life-threatening health inequalities people with a learning disability face in our NHS.

“1,200 people with a learning disability die every year within our NHS due to inadequate care – that is three people a day. The Confidential Inquiry into deaths of people with a learning disability set out the changes needed to stop this scandal of avoidable deaths, but there has been an unacceptable lack of progress made in implementing many of the changes needed.”

“Even on areas where welcome progress has been made, such as in setting up a national mortality review, we see that government promises have already been broken, with the mortality review now not starting work until next summer at the earliest, when March had been promised.

“Over the last decade almost 100 deaths of people with a learning disability have been reported to Mencap by families. They feel poor quality care, lack of well trained staff and indifferent attitudes are to blame for their loved one’s death.

“People with a learning disability and their families have waited too long for change. Mencap is calling for the Government to act immediately to fully implement all of the recommendations of the Confidential Inquiry and make sure measures are put in place to stop the needless deaths of people’s loved ones.”

Kirsty Jayne Pearce was just 17 years old when she died avoidably within the NHS. It took her father Chas nearly 10 years to get answers, where an Inquest finally took place and concluded serious medical failings in the care contributed to Kirsty’s death.

Kirsty’s family said:

“When our beautiful daughter Kirsty died, like us she still believed that the hospital staff would save her. They failed her and allowed her to die in pain and without dignity.

“There were a catalogue of errors and significant failings by the medical and nursing staff on the night of Kirsty’s death and for this the staff responsible should be ashamed. There is no doubt that those responsible for Kirsty during the night she died broke their duty of care towards her.

“Since she died we have been fighting for justice for Kirsty. It has been very hard to get hospital staff to accept that they have made mistakes. It breaks our hearts to remember how frightened she was during her final hospital stay.”

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. www.mencap.org.uk

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