The difficulties and pressures facing doctors and nurses on a daily basis cannot be overstated. Access to healthcare is a freedom and assurance to which we are all privileged. For those who have learning difficulties and mental health concerns, the requirement for the highest standard of healthcare becomes increasingly important, especially with those patients who are less able to communicate any presenting complaint.
According to this article, since 2011 just 1 in 7 deaths of hospital inpatients with learning difficulties have been investigated, including only 1 in 3 deaths which are classed as 'unexpected'.
The importance of investigating, specifically unexpected deaths, is highlighted by the need to learn from those events and develop a care system to better cope with the difficulties it faces on a daily basis.
The unfortunate reality that patients with learning disabilities and mental health concerns can be at higher risk of receiving poorer treatment requires a greater risk of investigation into the cause, together with development of current strategies to ensure that those who are more vulnerable can access the same standard of care.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is facing calls for a nationwide inquiry into the deaths of highly vulnerable patients in NHS care after it emerged that just one in seven such fatalities in hospitals in England have been investigated. Data released to the Guardian under freedom of information laws show that hospitals in England have investigated just 209 out of 1,436 deaths of inpatients with learning disabilities since 2011.