Headlines: June 1st, 2007



A former Chief Executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, is to lead an independent inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities. The inquiry has been set up following a report earlier this year by the mental health charity Mencap into the deaths of six people with learning disabilities and will aim to learn lessons from those cases.

The inquiry panel, to be chaired by Sir Jonathan Michael, will meet those involved to discuss the issues to be covered. A separate reference group is being set up to ensure the views of service users and carers will be taken into consideration and it will act as sounding board for the chair and panel members. The inquiry will not look in detail at any individual cases other than those covered in the Mencap report, “Death by Indifference”.

The review will focus on what action is necessary to ensure adults and children with learning disabilities can receive appropriate treatment, primarily in general acute health care but also in wider health services. The Health Service Ombudsman for England, Ann Abraham, will be carrying out her own independent investigation of the cases highlighted by Mencap.

Sir Jonathan said, “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.”

He will be joined on the panel by Chris Davies, a consultant in social care and lead Advisor to the Social Services Improvement Agency in Wales, Len Fenwick Chief Executive of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust, Professor Sheila Hollins, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Jim Mansell, Director of the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent, Professor. John Moxham, Medical Director, of King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust and Joan Saddler, who chairs Waltham Forest Primary Care Trust.