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Government tells NHS – Don’t resuscitate disabled kids or children with learning difficulties ( Death Panels and Eugenics?)

Posted in Death Panels, Disability, Eugenics, Euthanasia, Euthanesia with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by saynsumthn

Mencap is calling on the government to make the NHS safe for people with a learning disability, following the publication, today (Wednesday 15 February), of a new report ‘Death by indifference: 74 deaths and counting’, which finds continued institutional discrimination in the NHS.

The new report looks at what progress has been made since the publication of Mencap’s original ‘Death by indifference’ report in 2007.

It confirms that, although some positive steps have been taken in the NHS, many health professionals are still failing to provide adequate care to people with a learning disability. The report highlights the deaths of 74 people with a learning disability in NHS care over the last ten years – highlighted in an article in The Guardian on 3 January – which Mencap believes are a direct result of institutional discrimination and could have been avoided.

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NHS accused of putting ‘do not resuscitate’ notices on patients with learning disabilities without consulting with their families
By Daily Mail Reporter

A leading charity has accused NHS staff of thinking patients with learning abilities are not worth treating, often giving them ‘do not resuscitate’ notices without telling their families.

A Mencap report said the deaths in NHS care of 74 people with learning disabilities could have been avoided – and were a direct result of institutional discrimination.

Mencap said the staggering number of deaths had occurred in the past decade, and it called on the Government to ‘make the NHS safe for people with a learning disability’.
Its report – titled Death By Indifference: 74 Deaths And Counting – found continued discrimination in the NHS, and examined the progress made since the publication of its original Death By Indifference report in 2007.

The charity said that, although some positive steps had been taken in the NHS, many health professionals were still failing to provide adequate care to those with learning disabilities.

In particular, it pointed to the inappropriate use of ‘do not resuscitate’ (DNR) orders on such patients.

The report said: ‘The inappropriate use of DNR orders has remained a constant feature of many Mencap cases. There have been circumstances where DNR notices have been applied without the knowledge or agreement of families, and applied hastily in inappropriate situations, solely on the basis of the person’s learning disability.’

Report authors said they uncovered common errors made by healthcare professionals, including failure to abide by disability discrimination law, ignoring crucial advice from families, failing to meet even basic care needs, not recognising pain and distress, and delays in diagnosing and treating serious illness.

Mencap said it believed this was underpinned by an assumption by some healthcare professionals that people with a learning disability were not worth treating.

Mark Goldring, Mencap chief executive, said: ‘The report confirms that, five years on from our landmark Death By Indifference report, many parts of the NHS still do not understand how to treat people with a learning disability.

‘At Mencap we continue to hear heartbreaking stories of unnecessary deaths and pain. Sadly we believe that these cases are just the tip of the iceberg.’
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: ‘This Government has made very clear its commitment to improve the health of people with learning disabilities.
‘We share Mencap’s concerns that some people with learning disabilities may not be receiving the high-quality healthcare that they should expect.’

In the conclusion to its report, Mencap says: People with a learning disability have a right to the same quality of healthcare as those without a learning disability. Getting it right for them will also mean getting it right for all vulnerable people, such as older people and those with dementia.

‘The government must act to make all the changes necessary to make good healthcare a right for all.

Included in the report are case studies typical of what Mencap believes to be institutionalised discrrimination in the NHS:
‘Alan MacDonald died suddenly in Lister Hospital, Stevenage, on 20 December 2009, aged 53.
‘He had lived independently with his wife, supported by carers.
‘Alan had Down’s syndrome and a moderate learning disability, and was considered by his family to have a “full and active life”.
‘Three days before admission to hospital, Alan was noted by his family to be “in fine form”. However, on December 15, 2009, he was admitted to hospital with abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
‘From the time Alan was admitted, his family felt they had to “beg” staff to treat him, only to be met with “hostility”.
‘A member of Alan’s family who is a doctor… said: “I felt the nurses on the ward did not respect a gravely ill patient with special needs and a grieving family. Instead of using respect, tact, care and understanding, I and the rest of Alan’s family were faced with hostility, disrespect and no consideration for the distressing situation”.
‘The cause of death was multiple organ failure, sepsis and bronchopneumonia.
‘After a protracted complaint against it by Alan’s family, the hospital has finally apologised for the attitude of some of its nursing staff. But, for the family, the lack of respect shown for their loved one is something that will never be forgotten.’

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