9 July 2008
Leading health bodies unite to stop discrimination against people with a learning disability in NHS care
Leading health bodies, including the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal Society of Medicine, have joined forces with Mencap to produce a best practice guide for health professionals on improving healthcare for people with a learning disability.
Getting it right, published on 11 December, is part of the health organisations' support for Mencap's campaign to stop discrimination against people with a learning disability in NHS care. An interactive website accompanies the guide - www.mencap.org.uk/gettingitright.
The health bodies, that represent over one million health professionals in the UK, came together in response to the publication of Mencap's Death by indifference report. In the report, Mencap exposed the shocking deaths of six people with a learning disability who had died unnecessarily in NHS care.
Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap, the UK's leading learning disability charity, says: "Mencap's report, Death by indifference, and Sir Jonathan Michael's independent inquiry1 proved that people with a learning disability receive poorer healthcare than the general population and in some cases experience unnecessary pain and death.
"Mencap welcomes the support of the organisations involved and their recognition that something needs to be done. We hope that all health professionals use this practical resource to improve the level of healthcare given to people with a learning disability."
Jim Blair, Chair of the Getting it right group representing the Royal College of Nursing and Royal Society of Medicine, says: "It is everybody's business to provide equitable care and treatment for people with learning disabilities in the Acute Care sector. Getting it right will alert health professionals of all levels - from the receptionist to the most senior clinician - to their responsibility to ensure people with a learning disability receive the best possible treatment."
Martin Bollard, Vice Chair of the Getting it right group representing the Royal College of General Practitioners, comments: "The Getting it right guide represents what can be achieved when different health bodies collaborate effectively on behalf of vulnerable members of society. With the continued efforts of the groups who have developed this guide, it is hoped that the future risk of fatalities and discrimination against people with learning disabilities within mainstream healthcare can be reduced."
Dr. Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: "The RCN is a strong supporter of the work that Mencap is doing to support people with learning disabilities, their families and carers. This publication is an important contribution and acts as a key reminder for all stakeholders. It will be seen by RCN members as a very helpful resource."
For more information and to download the guidance, visit www.mencap.org.uk/gettingitright.
Notes to editors
1Healthcare for all: Report of the Independent Inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities can be downloaded at www.iahpld.org.uk/.