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Getting hospital care right

August 27, 2014 8:23 PM
In http://www.mencap.org.uk
The last time I went to see a GP I had to explain what a learning disability was. I don't think that I should have to do that - all doctors should have an understanding about it.

It can be scary enough going to hospital without worrying about whether my doctors even understand about my learning disability. I have been working as a volunteer for Mencap for 20 years, and I am shocked and saddened that so many people with a learning disability die avoidably every year.

Healthcare is one of the most important issues for people with a learning disability. In 2007, Mencap released the Death by indifference report, which told the stories of 6 people who died needlessly in hospital.

After the Death by indifference report came out, 74 deaths and counting was also released. It highlighted 74 more cases of people who died needlessly in hospital. It showed that not enough had changed. We know that 1,200 people still die avoidably every year. This needs to stop.

There are 1.4 million people in the country who can have weakened healthcare due to there not being enough knowledge among GPs. This needs to change.

In 2010, Mencap launched the Getting it right campaign for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The idea is to increase the knowledge there is about treating people in hospital who have a learning disability. More than 200 hospitals signed up to the charter, promising to make sure hospital passports are used and that staff understand the Mental Capacity Act.

There are 1.4 million people in the country who can have weakened healthcare due to there not being enough knowledge among GPs. This needs to change.

To help do this, I'm speaking at a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine on 17 September. This is a very important conference because there will be lots of doctors there who want to learn more about learning disability.

I'll be speaking with my colleague, James Bolton, Mencap's policy officer for health, about Mencap's work to make healthcare better for people with a learning disability. We will update on how it went after the event, so watch this space