Patricia Hewitt orders inquiry following Mencap report on NHS deaths

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has called for an independent inquiry into healthcare for people with learning difficulties, following a Mencap report into six people the charity claims died prematurely due to institutional discrimination and ignorance in the NHS.

They include Mark, (pictured), who died in August 2003 of broncopneumonia, two months after being admitted to hospital with a broken leg. He had a severe learning difficulty and very little speech, though could communicate his needs to his family.

Hewitt said the inquiry would not only focus on the six deaths, but look at wider national implications.

She said the inquiry would ensure “we learn the lessons from this and that the NHS and others take all the necessary steps to ensure people with learning disabilities get the quality of care they need”.

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