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

Mencap calls on GMC to reopen Kirsty Pearce case

Learning disability charity Mencap has called on health regulator the General Medical Council (GMC) to reopen its case into the death of a 17-year-old with learning disabilities at Basildon Hospital in Essex in 2003.

Mencap has made this call after the conclusion of the inquest into Kirsty Pearce’s death. At the inquest, the coroner’s expert witness, Dr Ian Maconochie, of St Mary’s Hospital, London, concluded that “the delay in her [Kirsty] getting the sort of treatment required for her from the outset of her presentation contributed to her death”. Mencap is concerned that no health professional has been held accountable for the death of Kirsty – who had a learning disability and complex health needs – despite expert evidence that numerous care failings contributed to her death. A 2007 Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman report into her death found that there were ‘significant failings during her final illness’ and that there was a ‘failure to recognise the seriousness of her condition’ by Basildon Hospital.

The GMC had planned a disciplinary hearing into the conduct of a doctor on duty the night Kirsty died, but this was cancelled, despite continuing pressure from Kirsty’s family and their MP.

David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy, said: “The standard of care Kirsty received the night she died was appalling. “Mencap believes it is unacceptable that no one has been held accountable for Kirsty’s death. This is why we are calling on the GMC to investigate the health professionals responsible for those failings and show that the lives of people with a learning disability are valued by the medical profession.”

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