Report links avoidable deaths to shortage of specialist nurses
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Report links avoidable deaths to shortage of specialist nurses

Alison Stacey

Learning Disability Mortality Review cites lack of understanding of patients’ requirements among staff in acute hospitals

A lack of understanding about learning disabilities and autism in acute care is contributing to avoidable deaths, according to the annual Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR). The report found that the proportion of avoidable deaths in England for this group remains well above the figure for the wider population, prompting calls for consistent learning disability nursing provision across the NHS.

Learning Disability Practice. 27, 1, 6-6. doi: 10.7748/ldp.27.1.6.s2

Published: 08 February 2024


Picture credit: Jim Varney

It also notes poor knowledge and skills for health monitoring among social care staff, particularly in recognising signs of potentially serious illnesses and clinical deterioration, including sepsis.

The report analysed data from every recorded death of a person with a learning disability or autism. It found 853 (42%) of the 2,054 recorded deaths of adults with a learning disability were classified as avoidable.

This was down from 50% in 2021 but remains ‘significantly higher’ than the percentage for the general population across the UK, which was 22.8% in 2020 – the latest data available.

An NHS spokesperson said the report was a reminder of the work needed to improve healthcare for people with a learning disability and autistic people.

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