When we met Jeremy Hunt back in the day (I know), it was a deeply frustrating meeting because he didn’t listen. And insisted that improving NHS patient safety generally would improve the lives of learning disabled people.
He didn’t seem to understand that learning disabled people typically die prematurely. That there is, too often, a lack of value and worth ascribed to certain lives, and the denial of an imagined future. That these factors feed into the ways in which people are treated. In life and death.
He used the Mazars review, which found that less than 1% of the deaths of learning disabled people and older people with mental health issues were investigated, to ask the CQC to review NHS death investigation processes generally. With a ‘focus’ on the deaths of patients with mental health issues/learning disabilities.
Mike Richards, CQC Chief Inspector of Hospitals, made a statement about this review in April 2016. He didn’t mention learning disability or mental health.
A CQC scoping paper (undated) about the review refers to mental health and learning disability once:
Less than 1% of deaths investigated translated into ‘important challenges around multi-agency working’. Simply extraordinary. The incontrovertible evidence that, in a so called advanced society, certain deaths are simply rubbed out, erased. Again. A double rubbing out.
I’ve not read the review which will be published on Tuesday. The CQC thoughtfully shared the section mentioning LB. This (now amended section) translated less than 1% into ‘less likely’:
The (Mazars) report also highlighted that certain groups of patients including people with a learning disability and older people receiving mental health care were less likely to have their deaths investigated by the trust.
My maths is appalling (just ask Rosie…) but I know less than 1% rings deeply concerning human rights bells. And, you’d expect, demands immediate scrutiny and action.
The writing is clearly on the wall for the unmaking of a scandal. Almost a year to the day of the BBC publishing the findings of the Mazars report. The broader findings of the CQC review will no doubt feed Jeremy Hunt’s seemingly insatiable appetite for all things human factors at the expense of a focus on the erasure of certain lives (and deaths). I hope both the report, and his response to it, prove me wrong.