The pledge to extend the NHS to a seven day service has proved controversial, with data about weekend deaths fiercely contested
The pledge to extend the NHS to a seven day service has proved controversial, with data about weekend deaths fiercely contested

NHS fails to investigate 85% of deaths of hospital patients with learning disabilities

It was revealed that Southern Health NHS Trust investigated just four of 93 unexpected deaths of people with learning disabilities

Ian Johnston
Monday 21 December 2015 00:22
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Just 15 per cent of deaths of hospital patients with learning disabilities have been investigated by the NHS trusts involved, according to information revealed under freedom of information laws.

And even in cases where the deaths were unexpected only 36 per cent were the subject of an investigation, the Guardian reported.

England’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Mike Richard, said he planned to look into the situation “in more detail”. “The findings from this investigation are very concerning,” he said.

And Jan Tregelles, chief executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, called for an inquiry.

“[The figures] will leave many families questioning whether their loved one’s death in NHS care should have been properly investigated and show the need for the Government to commission an independent investigation across the NHS on these failings,” she said.

Just 209 out of 1,436 deaths of patients with learning disabilities in NHS hospitals in England since 2011 were investigated, according to the Guardian. Only 100 of the 276 unexpected deaths were looked into.

The news comes after it was revealed that Southern Health NHS Trust investigated just four of 93 unexpected deaths of people with learning disabilities.

The Department of Health said all unexpected deaths should be investigated.

“As the government’s response to Southern Health made clear, it is important that the NHS properly investigates unexpected deaths to learn lessons and improve care,” a Health Department spokesperson said.

“That’s why the Secretary of State has announced an investigation by the Care Quality Commission into how deaths are investigated in all types of trusts. [NHS England medical director] Professor Sir Bruce Keogh also wrote to all NHS hospitals last week asking them for an assessment of their avoidable mortality to drive learning in the system.”

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