Government Examines Improving Healthcare Standards For People With Learning Difficulties
6th August 2013
While all kinds of people can be the victim of clinical negligence, people with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable. Two new reports – the Six Lives Progress Report for People with Learning Disabilities and the Confidential Inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities – recently revealed that while there have been a number of improvements into the healthcare standards received by people with learning disabilities, these individuals still face unequal standards of care, with care sometimes reaching poor standards.
As a result, the government is looking into improving the standards of treatment these vulnerable people receive. The Department of Heath has asked the National Clinical Director for Learning Disability to investigate developing guidelines that would detail best practice for treating people with learning difficulties, with Minister of State for Care and Support Norman Lamb stating that far more needs to be done to improve the standards of treatment these individuals receive.
A number of other recommendations are also being analysed, in the hope of reducing the likelihood of people with learning difficulties dealing with medical negligence claims. These include:
a- Establishing known contacts for anyone with several long-term health problems, helping these people to communicate with a range of healthcare professionals, coordinate their treatment and plan their care,
b- Enhancing the ways in which people with learning difficulties are identified to enable healthcare workers to effectively respond to their requirements, and
c- Setting up patient-held records for everyone with learning disabilities and other health problems.
The Six Lives report also suggested a number of other priority areas that could be a key consideration for further improvement. These include:
a- Working alongside NHS England to ensure that the healthcare system continues to improve and monitor the wellbeing of people with learning difficulties,
b- Providing Health and Wellbeing Boards with all the information they need to understand these people’s complex requirements,
c- Ensuring that these people have a greater voice in local communities, helping to develop services for marginalised and vulnerable groups, and
d- Encouraging personal health budgets among people with learning disabilities and integrating these across the health and social care sector.
Clinical Negligence Claims Involving People With Learning Disabilities
Not only do people with learning disabilities face worse health outcomes than the general public, but they also can find it harder to make a clinical negligence claim and receive compensation when they have been the victim of negligent treatment.
Mental health charity Mencap has suggested that there is a widespread culture of indifference and ignorance towards people with learning disabilities in the healthcare sector, as well as towards their carers and family members. Furthermore, Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham has suggested that at best, NHS and social services are “patchy” when dealing with people with learning disabilities, but in their worst instances are an “indictment on our society”.
It goes without saying that people with learning disabilities have just as much of a right to receive a high standard of healthcare as everyone else, and many people are surprised to realise that the UK has a serious problem in doing so.
If someone with a learning disability has suffered a personal injury due to the negligence of healthcare practitioners, then they can claim compensation for their pain and suffering from within three years of the date on which the injury occurred. If they are incapable of taking care of their own affairs, then the three-year limit does not apply until the date they become capable of doing so.
Carers and family members can make a compensation claim on their behalf, should it be required. Our medical negligence solicitors can also advocate on their behalf to ensure that the sufferer’s best interests are protected.
Making A Clinical Negligence Claim With Clearwater Solicitors
We care deeply about the rights of people with learning disabilities and can help them and their loved ones to make a clinical negligence claim. We have considerable expertise in helping these people and are more than happy to deal with their cases.
Claimants need experienced, sympathetic specialists who know how to handle the unique aspects of these cases and can help people receive all the money they deserve for their injuries. We have seen how people with learning disabilities can be mistreated by the NHS and by health workers and know how to pursue claims following this mistreatment.
To see how we could help you out, call us on 08000 430 430 or fill in our online enquiry form.