Awkward beginning to Tuesday. At the crack of dawn Rich and I sat on the BBC Breakfast sofa. 6am-ish. Twenty minutes (literally) after tipping out of bed. The CQC deaths review was published with failings in death investigations found across trusts. Findings of crap. The focus on learning disability and mental health lost in the review. The obvious next step to the Mazars review was to explore whether the discrimination it revealed was replicated across other trusts. The broader focus on all deaths in the CQC review obscured this focus.
I had little to say on the sofa about the broader findings of the review. It’s shite. Of course it’s shite. And needs urgent attention. But urgent attention to the broader picture ain’t going to get anywhere near to addressing the (soft) eugenic practices happening in full view. (Another study last week reinforced the shocking premature mortality figures for learning disabled people.)
This was not the story the BBC were running with.
Luckily Rich (a political scientist) shone. And the second sofa slot/day of various news gigs became manageable with the intervention, via twitter, of a dedicated and passionate BBC fairy. And sensitive, thoughtful engagement with various people across the day.
In stark contrast to the review findings.
This stuff really ain’t rocket science.
The silent minority
Two weeks ago, during the final meeting of the CQC deaths review expert reference group, discussion was around the inclusion of mandatory investigation of the deaths of learning disabled people as a recommendation. It was clear that these deaths were simply not scrutinised. They were expected and accepted. Howl.
The final report had one recommendation relating to learning disability/mental health. Recommendation 4.
As recommendations go (in the unrelenting carousel of NHS reports) this must feature in the top three of all time ‘what the fuckwhattery?’ recommendations. An extraordinary leap from mandatory investigations to nothing. When I asked for clarification, the CQC said it meant ‘different parts of the health services need to work together to reduce the increased risk of premature death’. A year on from the Mazars review, further evidence of deep inequalities and worse within the NHS, and a recommendation we could have drummed up, at no cost, in seconds.
The words ‘missed opportunity’ just don’t work here.
In 1952, because of the prevalence of certain deaths, the government set up the Confidential Inquiry in Maternal Deaths focusing on the deaths of women during and up to six weeks after childbirth. Supported by a range of experts, with clear, careful and methodological scrutiny, this inquiry has reduced the annual maternal death rate from 90 deaths in 100,000 to 10. Jeremy Hunt insists that the LeDeR programme based at Bristol University is performing this function. It’s not. It’s not designed to. Nor has the funding to. There is no effective scrutiny of these deaths. (Can you imagine?)
We’re left with incontrovertible evidence that certain, marginalised people die prematurely. That they are dismissed in death as well as life. That their deaths simply don’t count as important enough for serious review/scrutiny. This, in turn, means they will continue to die early.
The CQC decided on the recommendations in the review. And carefully spread the responsibility for ensuring these actually happen around various organisations. With no single point of oversight. Not a sensible model. Whatever spills out of the half arsed, ‘learning disability’ badged non actions that will be talked about, a decision was made to bury the real scandal here. In Recommendation 4.