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People with Learning Difficulties (Health Care)

Volume 508: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2010

I am today announcing the organisations that the Department has selected, following an open competitive procurement process, to:

carry out a time-limited confidential inquiry into premature and avoidable deaths of people with learning disabilities; and

provide a time-limited public health observatory service to help commissioners better understand the health and health care needs of people with learning disabilities in their local populations.

Contracts have been awarded to:

University of Bristol Norah Fry Research Centre (Bristol), to run the confidential inquiry; and

North-East Public Health Observatory (NEPHO) in partnership with the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University, to provide the public health observatory service.

Both these contracts have been awarded for an initial period of 12 months from March 2010, with the intention to extend them for a further two years until March 2013 subject to evaluation of the work carried out in the first year and availability of funds.

These contract awards follow recommendations made in “Healthcare for all”, the report of the independent inquiry headed by Sir Jonathan Michael into access to health care for people with learning disabilities. The inquiry recommended that the Department establish a confidential inquiry to improve evidence for health and care professionals and a Public Health Observatory to improve data and information to support commissioning. As part of the “Valuing People Now” strategy for people with learning disabilities published last year, the Department gave a commitment to implement both these recommendations. These contract awards take forward that commitment.

These projects have an important part to play in delivering the improvements in health and health care for people with learning disabilities to which the Government are committed.