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Learning Disabilities Mortality Review

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 8th May 2018.

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Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 3:41 pm, 8th May 2018

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this issue; the report makes for very troubling reading.

On the date of publication, the hon. Lady will be aware that this was an independent report prepared by the University of Bristol and commissioned by NHS England, which wanted to look into this really important issue, and because it was an independent report, it did not actually alert us to publication, so we had no more notice than she did. We are investigating through NHS England and others why that happened.[This section has been corrected on 9 May 2018, column 8MC — read correction]

As the report clearly identifies, there is still more work to do, and we will work with partners to see how the recommendations may be implemented. We are committed to learning from every avoidable death to ensure that such terrible tragedies are avoided in the future. She mentions Dr Sara Ryan, whose son, Connor Sparrowhawk, died in such tragic circumstances in my own Southern Health Trust area. She and other parents like her are testimony to the incredible dedication of people who have worked so hard to get justice for their loved ones at a time when they feel least able to do so.

We have done several things already. We have introduced a new legal requirement so that from June every NHS trust will have to publish data on avoidable deaths, including for people with a learning disability, and provide evidence of learning and improvements. We are the first healthcare system in the world to publish estimates of how many people have died as a result of problems in their care. Learning from the review is also informing the development of the pathways of care published by NHS England and the RightCare programme, which is tailored to the needs of people with learning disabilities. Pathways on epilepsy, sepsis and respiratory conditions will be published later this year.

We have introduced the learning disability annual health checks scheme to help ensure that undiagnosed health conditions can be identified early. The uptake of preventive care has been promoted and improved, while the establishing of trust between doctors and patients is providing better continuity of care. We have also supported workforce development by commissioning the development of learning disabilities core skills education and training framework, which sets out the essential skills and knowledge for all staff involved in learning disability care.

As I said, the report makes for troubling reading, but we asked NHS England to commission it so that we might learn from these deaths and make sure that trusts up and down the country are better equipped to prevent them from happening in the future.