This site is intended for health professionals only

Lack of learning disability nurses 'risking lives'

A shortage of learning disability nurses in the NHS is putting thousands of lives at risk, a leading charity has claimed. 

Mencap has called for increased learning disability awareness and training for NHS staff. 

Figures uncovered by Mencap show that 1,200 people with a learning disability die avoidably in the NHS every year. 

Women with a learning disability die 20 years earlier than the general practice on average, and men with a learning disability die 13 years earlier on average. 

Mencap has launched a campaign to ensure that learning disability liaison nurses are placed in all hospitals to ensure people with learning disabilities get adequate support. 

Jan Tegelles, chief executive at Mencap said: "With winter fast approaching, we must ask the government how it plans to care for the most vulnerable individuals in our society during this time. In recent years, the NHS has struggled to cope with the pressures that winter brings, so we fear what this will mean for people with a learning disability and the quality of care they receive in the NHS.

"We know that the right training and awareness is critical. Where professionals such as learning disability liaison nurses are in post, they have made a really positive difference to the experiences and health outcomes of people with a learning disability.

“The government must take action to ensure that people with a learning disability get the high quality healthcare they need and put an end to this scandal of avoidable deaths. No more excuses - people with a learning disability and their families deserve better.”