Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Government response to inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities criticised

hospitalThe principal investigator for the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities (CIPOLD) has criticised the government for the pace of its response to the report’s findings.

Dr Pauline Heslop has said that while the government accepted many of the recommendations of the Inquiry, which was published in March, and an action plan is in place, progress in making change has been slow.

The Confidential Inquiry, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol’s Norah Fry Research Centre, highlighted that up to a third of the deaths of people with learning disabilities were from preventable causes.

Dr Heslop’s call came after the Confidential Inquiry’s findings were published in The Lancet on December 11.

Using data drawn from the CIPOLD report, Professors Glover and Emerson of the Improving Health and Lives Learning Disabilities Observatory, estimate that about 25 people with learning disabilities die each week from causes of death wholly or partly amenable to good quality healthcare.

Dr Heslop said: “By the end of the current financial year, £2.7 billion will have been axed from English councils’ budgets for adult social care in the past three years. This is highly likely to be exacerbating the problems that people with learning disabilities face at the community, primary and secondary care interfaces and the coordination of their care needs.

“The Department of Health published its response to the Confidential Inquiry in July, and although it has accepted many of the recommendations of the Inquiry and there is an action plan in place, progress in making significant change by the Department of Health and NHS England has been slow. We saw immediate and concerted attention being taken in response to the circumstances at Winterbourne View and Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, but a similar degree of urgency appears not to have been paid to the findings of the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities.

“The recommendations of the Confidential Inquiry align in many ways with initiatives for other patient groups and we welcome, for example, the forthcoming changes to the GP contract for patients with complex health and care needs for whom there will be more proactive care management, personalised care plans and a named GP and care coordinator. We need to stop thinking about people with learning disabilities in a silo – if we could get healthcare access and service provision right for them, we could get it right for everyone.”

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