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Dying for things to change

Our recent health survey results conducted by Claire Bates, Choice Support's quality analyst, have been published in Learning Disability Today (March/April 14).

It has been over six years since Mencap first published their 2007 Death by Indifference report, but have the lessons been learnt from this? Claire's findings suggest that while some people we support with a learning disability received high quality health care, this was not universal or consistent within and across NHS trusts. Showing similar issues relating to disability discrimination and indifference to those highlighted in Mencap's report, but thankfully without such tragic consequences.

Many Choice Support staff felt people they supported only received a high quality of care due to their presence and the guidance they gave to NHS staff. Examples of negative experiences demonstrated how people's basic human needs were not met. In one case, a person was treated with antibiotics but as they were unconscious they were not given any fluids or food for five days.

Evidence from the Confidential Inquiry into Premature Death of People with Learning Disabilities (2012. Bristol: IHAL) and Choice Support's anecdotal evidence demonstrate that improvements are still required. NHS staff may require more training to correctly support the needs of people with learning disabilities in hospitals, but what fundamentally needs to change is how people are treated by some professionals.

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