All deaths of learning disability patients will be investigated

Deaths of all learning disabled patients will be investigated from this summer

The death of every person with learning disabilities will be investigated from this summer under a new scheme to be set up by the Department of Health.

The learning disability mortality review programme will be set up in June as a response to the Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities (CIPOLD).

The CIPOLD revealed that people with learning disabilities die avoidable deaths, either because they are preventable or amenable to treatment, shortening men's lives by 13 years and women's by 20 years compared with the rest of the population.

Pauline Heslop, reader in intellectual diasabilities research at the Norah Fry Research Centre, told that all deaths will be assessed at a local level to assess if there are any concerns about the cause of death and whether something could have been done to prevent them.

'It would be unfeasible to review every death in depth, as we did in the CIPOLD,' Dr Heslop said. 'But there will be a national-level scrutiny to collect the information. The most important thing is not the collection for the information, but knowing why people are dying prematurely. It's about creating action, moving practice forward and reducing mortality.'