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Six Lives: Progress Report on Healthcare for People with Learning Disabilities

It has been six years since Mencap’s original report, Death by Indifference, shocked us all with its exposure of the unequal healthcare and institutional discrimination that people with learning disabilities can experience within the NHS. The report described the harrowing circumstances surrounding the deaths of six people with learning disabilities, people who died while in the care of the NHS.

While much has improved since then, we know there is still more that needs to be done to achieve the changes to the culture of care and compassion that we all want to see for people with learning disabilities.

Nowhere is the need to transform that culture, particularly for more vulnerable patients, more clearly demonstrated than by the shocking events at Winterbourne View Hospital. Our recent Confidential Inquiry into the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities report also showed that people with learning disabilities continue to have poor experiences and outcomes compared with people without learning disabilities.

We have learned from these that healthcare can still fall far short of the standards of care that we would expect our health and social care system to deliver. The events that occurred at Winterbourne View pointed not just to one rogue institution but also exposed widespread, systemic failings. For too long and in too many cases people with learning disabilities have received poor quality and inappropriate care.