Intended for healthcare professionals


People with learning disabilities were treated “less favourably than others”

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 25 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1261
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

    Investigations into complaints about the care of six people with learning disabilities in England has found that “significant and distressing failures” in the treatment they received from health and social care services led to the death of one and probably one other.

    A lack of leadership and failure to understand the law in relation to disability discrimination and human rights at some of the 20 bodies involved in the care of the six people led to them being treated “less favourably than others, resulting in prolonged suffering and inappropriate care,” says the health service and local government ombudsmen who carried out the investigations.

    Mencap, a charity for people with learning disabilities, asked the ombudsmen to investigate the deaths of the six people, all of whom died between 2003 and 2005 while in NHS or local authority care, on behalf of their families. The charity believed that they all died unnecessarily as a result of receiving substandard care because of their …

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