5,500+ signature petition prompts new NHS training programme on learning disabilities for 2020

(Title Image: Paul Ridd Foundation via Facebook)

P-05-854 – “Make learning disability training mandatory for hospital staff”
Submitted by The Paul Ridd Foundation
Signatures: 5,654

Petition Supporting Evidence

  • A Public Services Ombudsman investigation into the death of Paul Ridd at Morriston Hospital in 2009 said lack of training and ignorance were a contributory factor leading to his death.
  • 1 in 4 healthcare professionals have never had training on learning disability or autism and two-thirds of healthcare professionals want more training.
  • 1 in 3 healthcare professionals believes a lack of leadership on the issue is contributing to avoidable deaths.

Learning disabilities cause people to die 20 years younger on average

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy), provided some background to the petition.

Born with severe learning disabilities, Paul Ridd (pictured above) was admitted to Morriston Hospital towards the end of 2008 with a perforated bowel. He spent three weeks in intensive care following surgery before being moved to a general ward – which his family believed happened too soon and resulted in the standard of care declining with Paul’s physical condition.

He died on 23rd January 2009. A coroner’s inquest found he died from natural causes contributed to by neglect.

In 2014, the Welsh Government introduced a care bundle to ensure people with learning disabilities receive a fair and equitable service, but this hasn’t been implemented consistently across Wales, leading to “sporadic awareness” of the care bundle’s existence and resulting in the petition.

David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon) was concerned that cases involving people with learning disabilities were still having to be addressed in 2019:

“It remains a stark fact that people with learning disabilities die on average 20 years earlier than the general population and that they continue to experience significant disparities in the quality of care and support they receive, as well as the outcomes they can expect. This is unacceptable in a twenty-first-century Wales.”
– David Rees AM

Mark Isherwood AM (Con, North Wales) noted an important distinction between autism and learning disabilities, where people with autism can live fairly independently with a degree of support. People with disabilities should be given a direct role in the design and delivery of services for them instead of being fitted into a model designed by people who don’t think as they do.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn) gave examples of conversations structured in a way where neurodivergent people may give a literal answer while neurotypical may expand on an answer resulting in missed symptoms and misdiagnosis. Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) expanded further on this, saying a constituent (who’s since died) didn’t have a broken neck diagnosed for 10 days because he couldn’t communicate what happened.

Enhanced training in Paul Ridd’s name under development

Replying on behalf of the government, Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services, Julie Morgan (Lab, Cardiff North), said that while pre-registration training for healthcare professionals includes elements relating to vulnerable groups – with nurses having specific training relating to learning disabilities – the approach varied. So, the Welsh Government will introduce a new training system in Paul Ridd’s name:

“….led by the University of South Wales, work is underway on developing a new three-tier framework approach to embedding training within NHS Wales….Tier 1 will be a national general awareness training programme for all staff. This will be embedded in health board equality and diversity training programmes and this is effectively mandating training. Tier 2 will comprise enhanced training for those staff with regular contact with individuals with a learning disability, and tier 3 will comprise a comprehensive education programme for staff with frequent specialised contact. So, everybody will get basic training and there will be more specific training for those that have more intensive contact.”
– Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services, Julie Morgan

The university will work with the Paul Ridd Foundation and NHS with a hope it will be rolled out in spring 2020. In the future, a similar programme could be developed for autism and it could be expanded to the social care sector.

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