Major inquiry launched into premature and avoidable deaths of people with learning disabilities

23 March 2010

Two investigations into the standards of care for people with learning disabilities were announced today by Care Services Minister Phil Hope.

The investigations follow suggestions that people with learning disabilities may have experienced a lower standard of care and will seek to establish whether these are isolated incidents or care for this group is lacking.

The three-year investigations will consider retrospective and emerging data.
The North East Public Health Observatory (NEPHO) at the Wolfson Research Institute at Durham University, in partnership with the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University, will collate existing information on the health and care needs of people with learning disabilities. This will help local service commissioners provide better targeted services for people with learning disabilities in their local populations.

The University of Bristol Norah Fry Research Centre will conduct a three year confidential inquiry into premature and avoidable deaths of people with learning disabilities. The inquiry will improve understanding of what causes such deaths and what needs to be done to stop them. Initial findings are expected to be published in Spring 2011.
  
Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: “People with a learning disability have the right to lead their lives like any others, with the same opportunities and responsibilities and to be treated with the same dignity and respect.

“It is unacceptable that people with learning disabilities might be experiencing lower standards of care than other patients. This must be fully investigated and these research studies should establish what factors have come into play and if tough action is needed.”