The Government Response to the LEDER report

The Government has published its response to the LeDeR report –  LeDeR-annual-report-2016-2017

This report collated and shared the anonymised information about the deaths of people with learning disabilities so common themes, learning points and recommendations could be identified to be taken forward into policy and practice improvements. Many of these issues, and its recommendations, echo those of previous reports on the deaths of people with learning disabilities dating back more than a decade. It is more than 10 years since Mencap published Death by Indifference (2007) highlighting ‘institutional discrimination’ leading to the deaths of six people with learning disabilities whilst in the care of the NHS. Sir Jonathan Michael’s subsequent (2008) report ‘Healthcare for all’ expressed shock at the ‘disturbing’ findings of the inquiry, and concern that the experiences of the families described in Mencap’s report were by no means isolated.

The report found that people with learning disabilities died on average at age 58 yrs. Compared with the general population, the median age of death is 23 years younger for men and 29 years younger for women and often for entirely avoidable reasons.

The Government’s response begins with ‘Every death represents a deep personal loss to someone. How much more tragic is that loss when the person dies years earlier than expected, or as a result of something which might under different circumstances have been prevented? For people with a learning disability this is an all too common occurrence.The evidence of sustained and profound health inequalities for people with a learning disability is compelling and cannot be ignored.’

It has many expressed fine intentions, the question is will these be delivered in a timely way ir at all when we’ve seen so many more people die in circumstances which should have been prevented.  Government response to the LeDeR report

We also believe that maybe this would not have got this far, had it not been for the painful but effective lobbying of parents – in particular #JusticeforLB and Dr Sara Ryan whose son died in the bath and who had to fight for 5 years to get an acknowledgement of the failures which meant hat this should not have happened.

Chris Hatton’s blog is a useful look at what this says and how it relates to the LeDeR recomendations – Valuing People then – the government response  He  ends by saying:  ‘Including some things that are already happening makes sense (it would be worrying if there wasn’t anything already happening), but the inclusion of some actions that are not relevant, or working to timelines that don’t match each other, reduces my confidence that this scattershot approach will result in radical change.’ He asks ‘what are the elephants stalking this government response?’ Amongst these he notes the lack of analysis of what has gone wrong, no mention of the NHS 10 year plan which has identified learning disabilities as a priority nor any resources…..

Professor Chris Hatton is Professor of Public Health and Disability at the University of Lancaster whose research interests include examining and working to reduce the health and social inequalities experienced by people with intellectual disabilities. He is Co-Director of Improving Health and Lives (IHAL), the Public Health England sponsored Learning Disabilities Public Health Observatory.