Department of Health and Social Care
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Independent inquiry into healthcare for people with learning disabilities

Independent inquiry into healthcare for people with learning disabilities

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release (R90-12) issued by The Government News Network on 31 May 2007

Sir Jonathan Michael, former Chief Executive of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, will chair the independent Inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced today.

The establishment of an independent inquiry follows Mencap's March 2007 report into the deaths of six people with learning disabilities.
The Health Secretary also announced the appointment of panel members to support Sir Jonathan. They are:

Chris Davies Consultant in Social Care/Lead Advisor Social Services Improvement Agency, Wales
Len Fenwick Chief Executive, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Prof. Sheila Hollins, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Prof. Jim Mansell, Director, Tizard Centre, University of Kent
Prof. John Moxham, Medical Director, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Joan Saddler Chair, Waltham Forest Primary Care Trust

Patricia Hewitt said:

"I am delighted that Sir Jonathan is taking on this important work. I am confident that he will carry out a rigorous investigation of the issues raised and make recommendations for any changes which need to be made."

The review will focus on the action needed to ensure adults and children with learning disabilities receive appropriate treatment, primarily in general acute health care and with reference to wider health services. The review will also aim to learn lessons from the six cases highlighted by the Mencap report 'Death by Indifference'. The Health Service Ombudsman for England, Ann Abraham, will be carrying out her own independent investigation of the cases. The inquiry will not be considering in detail any individual cases other than those set out in the Mencap report.

Sir Jonathan and the inquiry panel will shortly begin work and hold meetings with those involved to discuss the issues to be covered in the investigation. To ensure the views of service users and carers are taken into consideration, a separate reference group will be established as a sounding board for the chair and panel members.

Sir Jonathan said

"I am pleased to have been asked to chair this important inquiry into access to appropriate healthcare for people with learning disabilities. I look forward to working with both service users and providers to examine current practice and recent experience, highlight what lessons the NHS could learn and to identify where practice should be improved."

Notes to Editors

1. Sir Jonathan Michael MB, BS, FRCP, FKC was Chief Executive of Guy's and St Thomas' until the end of April 2007. Jonathan trained as a doctor at St Thomas', qualifying in 1970, and worked as a junior doctor at both St Thomas' and Guy's.
In 1980 he became a Consultant Physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where he was responsible for the development of what is now one of the largest kidney units in the UK. During the 1990s he became more involved in hospital management, serving as Clinical Director, then Medical Director, and finally Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust. He was awarded his Knighthood in 2005 in recognition of his lifetime commitment to the National Health Service. In the same year he was appointed a Fellow of Kings College London (FKC) in recognition of his contribution to the relationship between the health service and higher education. He will begin his new role as Deputy Managing Director [Healthcare] for BT Health, part of BT Global Services on 1st June 2007.

2. Independent inquiry Terms of Reference

? To identify action needed to ensure adults and children with learning disabilities receive appropriate treatment, primarily in general acute health care and with reference to wider health services. (The inquiry will not be conducting a detailed investigation of total provision across the NHS.)

- To learn lessons from the 6 cases highlighted by the Mencap report Death by Indifference':

- the inquiry will not be considering in detail any individual cases other than those set out in the Mencap report;
- The Health Service Ombudsman for England* has agreed to conduct an independent investigation of each individual case. The Ombudsman's investigations will run in parallel with the inquiry and, subject to the families' agreement, the Ombudsman's reports will be available to the inquiry panel to inform their conclusions and recommendations.The Health Service Ombudsman is a completely independent body with extensive powers to investigate.

- To review existing national and international research on the issue. (NB. not to undertake original research)

- To take into account evidence and findings from the Disability Rights Commission Formal Investigation into Health Inequalities for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems

- To provide a stakeholder consultation to listen to people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, and take evidence from key stakeholder groups.

- To draw up conclusions from the evidence, make recommendations and report these to the Secretary of State.

[ENDS]

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