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NHS 'failing' disabled people

24th March 2009

The Health Service and Local Government Ombudsmen has reported that NHS and social services in England are not meeting the health requirements of learning disabled people.

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Their investigation into six deaths, which was prompted by the charity Mencap, reported that care standards were an "indictment of our society" and found that one death was due to "failings" in care and another could have been prevented.

The team reviewed complaints made by the relatives of the six patients whose deaths occurred between 2003 and 2005.

Their report said hospitals, local health managers, the Healthcare Commission and council social care services were at fault.

The treatment of two patients - Mark Cannon, 30, from Romford, east London, and Martin Ryan, 43, from Richmond, west London - was connected to their deaths.

In two more cases, treatment failings occurred "partly" because the patients were learning disabled.

Ann Abraham, the Health Service Ombudsman, said: "The recurrence of complaints across different agencies leads us to believe that the quality of care in the NHS and social services for people with learning disabilities is at best patchy and at worst an indictment of our society."

The ombudsmen investigated the roles carried out by 20 separate groups in the six cases.

Care services minister Phil Hope said: "Preventable deaths of people with learning disabilities are absolutely unacceptable."

"We are taking action to ensure that people with learning disabilities get the equal access to the health care that they deserve."

 

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