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COVID ‘exacerbated’ health inequalities of people with learning disabilities, says clinical leader

Care quality pathways created during pandemic challenge inappropriate DNACPR notices

Care quality pathways created during the pandemic challenge inappropriate do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation notices for service users

The COVID-19 pandemic has ‘highlighted and exacerbated’ health inequalities experienced by people with a learning disability and autism, a national clinical leader has said.

NHS England and Improvement national clinical director for learning disability and autism Roger Banks told the RCNi learning disability nursing webinar that clinicians had a ‘significant responsibility’ to advocate for patients and clients.

New care support pathways created for people with learning disabilities in response to pandemic

‘Inequalities have always been in existence, but the pandemic has brought them to the fore,’ he said.

Dr Banks explained that new ways of working were

Care quality pathways created during the pandemic challenge inappropriate do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation notices for service users

Care quality pathways created during the pandemic challenge inappropriate do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation notices for service users
Picture: iStock

The COVID-19 pandemic has ‘highlighted and exacerbated’ health inequalities experienced by people with a learning disability and autism, a national clinical leader has said.

NHS England and Improvement national clinical director for learning disability and autism Roger Banks told the RCNi learning disability nursing webinar that clinicians had a ‘significant responsibility’ to advocate for patients and clients.

New care support pathways created for people with learning disabilities in response to pandemic

‘Inequalities have always been in existence, but the pandemic has brought them to the fore,’ he said.

Dr Banks explained that new ways of working were created during the pandemic to support care pathways.

These included online care education treatment reviews, guidance on vaccinations and challenging inappropriate do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) notices.

In March 2021, a Care Quality Commission report found nurses felt unable to challenge DNACPR notices issued by doctors during the first wave of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, a review published in September 2021 by Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board about three adults who died while inpatients at the now-closed Jeesal Cawston Park in Norfolk uncovered significant failings in their care.

The charity Mencap has called on the NHS and the government to act on the Cawston Park report and develop social care support in the community.

Clinicians should stand up and shout for people with a learning disability

Dr Banks said that in response to the review, NHS England is to undertake a safety and well-being review of every person with learning disabilities and/or autism in a mental health inpatient setting.

He added that NHS England would also be developing specific guidance about the use of continuous positive airway pressure equipment for people with a learning disability and/or autism.

He said: ‘As clinicians we have a significant responsibility to advocate on behalf of our patients and clients.

‘If we are aware that people are not receiving the best care that they could, we have a responsibility to advocate for them so that reasonable adjustments are being provided.

‘We have to stand up on a box and shout for them.’


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