Healthcare for people with learning disabilities DH progress report and consultation

six lives progress

The Six Lives report in 2009 investigated the provision of public services to people with learning disabilities following the deaths of the six people with learning disabilities highlighted in Mencap’s Death by Indifference report. The Department of Health in its response committed to providing progress reports on the recommendations and this report has been recently published. The report suggests that far more still need to be done across health and care services to improve the treatment that people with learning disabilities receive. The report points to some improvements but suggested that people still face unacceptable inequalities in health and social care.

Improvements reported include for example increases in the number of people with personal budgets and in the numbers of annual health checks,  although, many people reported that these were not being done in accordance with the guidance.

However there were also many examples of things not going so well, for example people still not being given information in a way they could understand, lack of recognition of when people were in pain and people not being included in key decisions about their care.

NHS England recently appointed a National Clinical Director for Learning Disability  whose role will be to provide clinical leadership and support in the five domains of the NHS Outcomes Framework, set out in objectives in the recent NHS  Mandate and the report calls on the Clinical Director to look at the feasibility of developing best practice guidelines for the treatment of people with learning disabilities.

The report also recommends:

  • improvements in the way people with learning disabilities are identified in healthcare to better respond to needs
  • a known contact for people with multiple long-term conditions to coordinate care
  • patient-held records for all people with learning disabilities who have several health conditions.

As part of the consultation process, the DH worked with BILD and Mencap to find out directly from people with learning disabilities and family carers about their experiences of healthcare services. In addition the publication of the DH report, BILD and Mencap have produced a report of the consultation and a series of videos called Getting Better? They have also published the results of an online survey.

Reports to download:

Six Lives Department of Health Second Progress report

Getting Better? Full Report

Getting Better? Easy Read Summary

Getting Better Survey Results

Getting Better Easy Read Survey Results

Watch the videos

BILD and Mencap Getting Better? videos

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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