Jan Tregelles MencapLearning disability charity Mencap has launched a charter targeted at new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that aims to eliminate the health inequalities that people with learning disabilities can experience in the NHS.

The recent confidential inquiry into the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities (CIPOLD) study, led by academics at the University of Bristol and funded by the Department of Health, found that more than 1,200 people with a learning disability die prematurely every year in NHS care. On average, people with a learning disability die 16 years earlier than the general population.

Mencap believes that CCGs, which replaced primary care trusts on April 1, will be crucial in eliminating these health inequalities within the NHS.

Supporting people with learning disabilities

The charter, Getting it right for people with a learning disability, a charter for Clinical Commissioning Groups, will see CCGs sign up to a number of pledges including; on-going learning disability awareness training for NHS staff in their area; supporting all GP surgeries to offer annual health checks to people with a learning disability; and providing evidence of what they have done to meaningfully involve patients and their families in the planning of health services.

The charter was developed in partnership with the Royal College of GPs, The Improving Health and Lives Learning Disabilities Observatory (IHaL), Royal College of Nursing, College of Occupational Therapists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Mencap will release a best practice guide to commissioning services for people with a learning disability later this year.

Jan Tregelles, CEO of Mencap, said: “These are avoidable deaths, caused by poor care and delays in diagnosis and treatment by the NHS. They are happening every year and highlight an unacceptable scale of discrimination faced by people with a learning disability.

“New clinical commissioning groups will be key to ending the health inequalities faced by people with a learning disability in the NHS. We want CCGs to sign up to the charter and pledge to commission services that truly meet the needs of people with a learning disability.”

Care Services Minister, Norman Lamb, added: "Recent reports and events have clearly shown that we need to have a complete change in culture about the way that people with learning disabilities are treated by our health and social care system.

“Mencap's charter presents a real challenge to clinical commissioning groups to help bring about these changes and I hope that all groups will consider signing up to its charter.”

The full charter can be viewed here: www.mencap.org.uk/CCGcharter