24 March 2009
he human rights department at Leigh Day & Co represents a number of learning disabled people and their families who have received substandard or inadequate medical and social care from the NHS or social services. Frances Swaine, head of the department, welcomed the publication today of the investigation by the Health Service and Local Ombudsmen into the deaths of six learning disabled people whose plight was highlighted by Mencap in their report, Death by indifference. The Health Ombudsman's report, Six lives: the provision of public services to people with learning disabilities, has revealed 'significant and distressing failures'.
One of these six people includes Mark Cannon, who died aged 30. He was admitted to hospital with a broken leg, but died of bronchopneumonia after a catalogue of serious failings that left him in severe pain. The Health Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has concluded that he died as a consequence of public service failure. She also concluded that it was likely the death of Martin Ryan could have been avoided. The report says that people with a learning disability experienced ‘prolonged suffering and poor care', and some of these failures were for disability related reasons. Hospitals were criticised for the inadequate care and treatment given to people with learning disabilities as well as the way they looked into complaints. Councils were attacked for failing to provide or secure adequate levels of health care, while local health managers working for primary care trusts were said to be struggling to plan services properly.
Mark Goldring, Mencap's chief executive, said: "The reports confirm the findings in 'Death by indifference' of the widespread failure by health professionals to provide the proper level of care and highlight an appalling catalogue of neglect of people with a learning disability."
The Ombudsmen make three key recommendations:
First, that all NHS and social care organizations in England should review urgently:
• the effectiveness of the systems they have in place to enable them to understand and plan to meet the full range of needs of people with learning disabilities in their areas;
• the capacity and capability of the services they provide and/or commission for their local populations to meet the additional and often complex needs of people with learning disabilities;
• and should report accordingly to those responsible for the governance of those organisations within 12 months of the publication of the Ombudsmen’s report.
Leigh Day & Co represents Mencap, and the families of the six people whose deaths were highlighted in Death by indifference. For more information please contact Frances Swaine
on 020 7650 1200.
Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.