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Review of premature death in people with learning disabilities


NHS leaders have launched what they are calling the world’s first national review into mortality levels among patients with learning disabilities.

The independent project is intended to help the NHS reduce premature deaths among this group of patients, they said.

“This will be a vital piece of work in helping us to support everyone to lead happier, healthier lives”

Dominic Slowie

The three-year National Learning Disability Mortality Review Programme has been commissioned by NHS England and the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, and will be carried out by the University of Bristol’s Norah Fry Research Centre.

It will seek to improve the quality of health and social care delivery for people with learning disabilities through a retrospective review of their deaths.

The case reviews will be used to support health and social care professionals to identify, and take action on, the avoidable contributory factors leading to premature deaths in this population.

The national mortality review was recommended by the 2010-13 Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities.

It found nearly a quarter of people with learning disabilities were younger than 50 years when they died. Up to a third of the deaths of people with learning disabilities were judged to be from causes that could possibly have been addressed by better healthcare provision.

It will form part of a raft of NHS England programmes designed to ensure that people with learning disabilities get the support and services they need, including radical plans to ensure more people are cared for in their communities instead of institutions, and work to drive up the uptake of Annual Health Checks and cancer screening, to spot and address the signs of ill health sooner.

Dominic Slowie, NHS England’s national clinical director for learning disability, said: “It is completely unacceptable that this huge inequality exists for people with learning disabilities, and this will be a vital piece of work in helping us to support everyone to lead happier, healthier lives.”

He added that the work of the earlier confidential enquiry had made a “big difference” to the way in which professionals and organisations thought about issues relating to learning disabilities, and led to important changes in policy and practice at local level, which needed to be replicated nationally.


Readers' comments (5)

  • michael stone

    I was aware of the earlier deaths of people with learning difficulties.

    But I'm cynical that there will be an effective solution - my suspicion is that like most real changes for health outcomes, this is likely to require significantly more spending to really improve the situation: and we all know that at the moment, things that need more spending tend to not happen. But I hope there is some improvement, nevertheless.

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  • The best way to make a big difference is to increase the number of learning disability nurses and really promote and value their specialist knowledge and skills. Their expertise is still not fully recognised by people outside of LD practice. These issues have been known about for years now and there has been a lot of talk but not much action. Get experienced LD nurses involved in this.

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  • michael stone

    More LD nurses probably means more cash spent - the thing I am 'cynical' about happening in the near future.

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  • lots of studies have come to the same conclusion but nothing effective has been done about it

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  • Could this be a reason?

    'More than 30,000 people with autism and learning disabilities 'under the chemical cosh

    Health offiicals have ordered an urgent summit after landmark research found 35,000 people with learning disabilities and autism are being put on antipsychotic medication and anti-depressants'

    By Laura Donnelly, Health Editor

    5:00PM BST 14 Jul 2015

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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