26 July 2022
The Royal College of Psychiatrists welcomes the recent Learning from Lives and Deaths People with a Learning Disability and autistic people (LeDeR) Annual Report and its findings on the lives and deaths of people with learning disabilities and autistic people in 2021.
The report found that people with learning disabilities and autistic people were dying at a higher rate and dying prematurely compared to the general population. The report, produced for NHS England, builds on work by the University of Bristol. It was led by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, the University of Central Lancashire and Kingston – St George’s University London.
The report aims to improve care, reduce inequalities, and prevent people with learning disabilities and autistic people from dying prematurely.
Dr Inder Sawhney, Chair of the Intellectual Disability Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“It’s completely unacceptable that people with a learning disability are dying much younger and at a much higher rate than the general population, missing out on vital life saving health checks and in some cases failing to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Sadly, many of these deaths could have been avoided, through prevention or treatment. Additionally, it’s shocking that of the patients who died with a DNACPR order in place, 40 per cent of these orders were found not to have been followed appropriately or information was not available to reviewers.
“This report tells us that public health interventions need to be designed with easy access in mind to reach people with a learning disability and the government must learn from these overwhelming findings. Urgent action is needed to ensure reasonable adjustments are in place for people with learning disabilities across health and social care. While the introduction of new mandatory training through the recent Health and Care Act is welcome, additional funding is required to ensure this can be rolled out at the scale and pace required to save lives. Additionally, it is vital to ensure interventions can be implemented to improve care, such as enabling caregivers to recognise of signs of deterioration and employing learning disability liaison nurses in general hospitals, as these posts were found to be associated with good care.”