An independent report based on an investigation relating to six people with learning disabilities has revealed that there were significant and distressing failures in services spanning health and social care. The Ombudsman found that people with learning disabilities experienced prolonged suffering and poor care. Many organisations failed to respond adequately to the complaints made against them which left family members feeling drained and demoralised. The investigations found maladministration, service failure and un-remedied injustice in a number of the 20 organisations investigated.

Three key recommendations were made in the Six Lives Report:

  • All NHS and social care organisations should urgently review the effectiveness of the systems in place to ensure that they cater to the needs of people with learning disabilities and carry out a review of the capacity and capability of the services provided. The findings of this review should be reported to the organisations governance committees by March 2010.
  • Those responsible for the regulation of health and social care services (Care Quality Commission, Monitor and the Equality and Human Rights Commission) should satisfy themselves that their monitoring regimes provide assurance that they are meeting their statutory and regulatory requirements. The results of these investigations should be reported to their boards by March 2010.
  • The Department of Health should promote and support the implementation of the recommendations and monitor progress and publish a progress report by September 2010.

This report comes at a time when there has been a transfer of learning disability social care commissioning and funding from primary care trusts to local government. This is a time of change and need for improvement of learning disability services which spans throughout services from the commissioners, to providers and regulators. The Ombudsman has set a challenging timetable for review and change for these services and works needs to start now in order to ensure these challenges are met.

The report can be accessed here.