NHS is killing patients with learning disabilities, regulators find

The National Health Service is failing people with learning disabilities, according to a report published yesterday on the deaths of six disabled patients.

Regulators blame hospitals and local authorities for “significant and distressing failures” that led to the six patients receiving inadequate care because of their disabilities.

Ann Abraham, the Health Service Ombudsman for England, said the findings suggested that a wider pattern of poor care for people with learning disabilities which was “an indictment of our society”.

Mark Cannon, 30, died after being admitted to hospital with a broken leg. Staff failed to give him any pain relief or to administer the correct medication to control his epilepsy. Renal failure and a severe chest infection were diagnosed only after considerable delays.

Martin Ryan, 43, starved for 26 days following a stroke because a feeding tube was not fitted and he was left too weak to undergo surgery.

Four other cases, all of which ended in the death of the patient, followed a similar pattern, with nurses and doctors accused of complacency or discrimination.

Families of the six put pressure on nurses and doctors to administer proper treatment, but were ignored and dismissed.

When they pursued their complaints formally, they were dealt with inadequately, leaving them “drained and demoralised”, the report says.

The six cases are the subject of a rare joint review by the by the Health Service and Local Authority Ombudsmen entitled Six Lives, which was published yesterday.

It has ordered a total of £120,000 to be paid to compensate the families for the distress caused in the care of their relatives.

Ms Abraham said that serious mistakes were made and ordered the NHS to overhaul its procedures for treating people with learning disabilities.


Comments are closed. Posted by: Health Direct on