A new package of guidance aimed at improving the standard of care that people with learning disabilities receive in hospital has been launched by the Welsh Government.
The ‘Care Bundle for People with a Learning Disability in a General Hospital Setting’ has been developed following the death of Paul Ridd, a 53-year-old man who had severe learning disabilities and also suffered from epilepsy and other physical problems.
Following surgery to treat a serious bowel problem in late 2008, Ridd died in hospital on January 23, 2009. He had contracted pneumonia whilst in hospital.
An Ombudsman report strongly upheld the main aspect of his family’s complaint concerning Ridd’s clinical care and made a number of recommendations. These included learning disability awareness training for staff, reminders for staff about appropriate care and relevant audits and inspections.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “In Wales, we are proud of our NHS and the service it provides. However, we are aware that mistakes happen, and when they do, we must learn from them.
“I met with Mr Ridd’s family last summer. I wanted to assure them lessons have been learned from Paul’s death and we were in the process of developing a set of guidance to make sure that the health needs of people with learning disabilities are met.”
Professor Jean White, chief nursing officer for Wales added: “We have worked closely with the relatives of Paul Ridd, our partners in the NHS and Public Health Wales to make sure this care pathway is workable for all clinicians, and will make a difference to patients who have additional needs when they are admitted into general hospital settings.
“The guidance has now been completed and will be rolled out across Wales as part of the 1000 Lives Plus service improvement programme.
“We are determined to ensure that our most vulnerable people are not only protected but are given the highest possible standards of care in all healthcare settings.
“Modernising learning disability nursing is one of my key priorities and we are engaged in a UK-wide initiative to further promote and enhance the role of learning disability nursing. This will ensure that people with a learning disability who have complex needs are able to access highly skilled, specialist interventions to meet their needs.”