Action from learning

By Gary Bourlet

The University of Bristol has published a report on the deaths of 206 people with a learning disability who have died during the coronavirus epidemic…

The report found that lots of things had been done well by people who work for the NHS and in healthcare, but some other things hadn’t been.It is important that we use this report to help us learn what needs to be done in the future to stop more people dying.

One of the main issues the report found was that staff were not spotting when people were getting unwell.
They didn’t know how to spot the signs and it was being left too late for patients to get help.

The NHS have said that they are now going to put out more information about this and work with staff to train them better.
It is really important they do this – staff must be taught properly what to look out for.

Another problem was that people were using a learning disability as a reason to not resuscitate someone (restart their heart). We already knew before this report that this was a big issue.

Learning Disability England have worked with Turning Point on a DNR guide for understanding your rights and challenging decisions which you can read here.
It is unacceptable, in many cases, that a learning disability alone is being seen as a reason for somebody not to live.

Healthcare staff are also looking too much at a person’s learning disability rather than their other health issues.
This has actually stopped people getting the treatment they needed at the right time.

This could be one of the reasons for poor health outcomes for people with learning disabilities in general.
We must relook at how we assess people – looking at people’s hospital passports could play a part in this.

The positive that comes from the report is that we now know what changes must be made to lower the amount of people with learning disabilities that die from COVID. You can read the full report here.

It is also important that we all work together to try and improve services and listen to the people who actually receive the care. Co-production is key.

We must also learn from our mistakes and hopefully we will see a smaller number of people with learning disabilities dying from the virus and in general.

Learning Disability England recently held an online meeting to help members share what they are doing to try to stop more people dying from Covid. It was called – what we have learnt and changed since Covid 19 started. Lots of different kinds of members shared what they know and what they have done to keep safe, keep going and keep learning.