Intended for healthcare professionals


People with learning disabilities are more likely to die prematurely, inquiry finds

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 20 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1853
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

People with learning disabilities are dying on average 16 years earlier than people in the general population in England because the NHS is failing to treat them adequately, an inquiry has found.

The Department of Health commissioned researchers at the University of Bristol to undertake a confidential inquiry to assess the extent of premature death among people with learning disabilities and offer guidance on its prevention.1

The researchers reviewed the sequence of events leading to all known deaths of 233 adults and 14 children with learning disabilities occurring over a two year period in five primary care trusts in southwest England and compared them with 58 comparator cases (adults without learning disabilities who died in the study area during the same period of time).

Overall 22% of people with learning disabilities were found to have died before they reached the age of 50, compared with just 9% of the general population. People with …

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