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Institutional Abuse March 12, 2007

Posted by Winter in disability rights.

From the BBC, An independent inquiry is to be launched after a charity highlighted six deaths of people with learning disabilities in NHS care.

Mencap’s report says there is widespread ignorance in the NHS which has resulted in “institutional abuse”.

Mencap also says:

the NHS staff who were looking after the six cases may not have consciously discriminated against the patients, but that there is a lack of training and understanding of how to care for people with learning disabilities.

In that case, my first question would be, why are people without appropriate training taking care of people with learning disabilities, when surely it should be taken as read that this job always requires a very high level of training?

The cases look appalling:

Martin Ryan, 43, who went without food for 26 days while in hospital following a stroke leaving him too weak to undergo surgery. He died in 2005

• Emma Kemp, 26, whose family were told she had a 50:50 chance of survival after being diagnosed with cancer, but doctors decided not to treat her as they believed she would not co-operate with treatment. She died in 2004

• Mark Cannon, 30, died in 2003 eight weeks after being admitted to hospital with a broken leg. He waited three days to see the pain team.

• Ted Hughes, 61, collapsed and died the day after being released from hospital

• Tom Wakefield 20, who was given no care for stomach pains and died of pneumonia and reflux problems in 2004

• Warren Cox, 30, died in 2004 following perforation of the appendix. His parents were told he had a virus

How much training do you need in order to realise that a man with broken leg needs immediate pain relief?

My own feeling is that this neglect, including the neglect of proper training for staff, really reflects cultural attitudes towards people with learning disabilities and mental illness.

Their care is just not a priority.



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