Recent Department of Health research demonstrates that people with learning disabilities are likely to die on average 16 years earlier due to NHS failings such as delays or problems investigating, diagnosing and treating illness.
Researchers at Bristol University looked at the death rates of people at five Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) over a two year period. Over that period 233 adults and 14 children with learning disabilities died compared with just 58 deaths amongst people without learning disabilities.
The research concluded that people with learning disabilities were more likely to have a premature death than those in the general population.
Statistics showed that women with learning disabilities died 20 years earlier than women without.
Men with learning disabilities died 13 years sooner compared to their non disabled counterparts.
A spokesperson for the charity Mencap has said that “These deaths, caused by poor care and delays in diagnosis and treatment, highlight the scale of discrimination faced by disabled patients in the NHS.”
The research provides several recommendations including the formation of a new individual committee to review the deaths of people with leaning disabilities, one named professional to co-ordinate the care of those with multiple health needs and clear and improved guidelines on when a “Do Not Resuscitate” order should be used.
This failure to properly understand the health needs of people with learning disabilities, has led to 1238 learning disabled people dying needlessly each year across the nation.
Ministers have greeted the knowledge with shock and have said that the findings from this report will be fed into the work going on which is looking at the NHS.