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Point of Order

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 10 May 2018

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Further to my urgent question on the learning disabilities mortality review on 8 May and my point of order later that day, when questioned about the timing of the publication of that review at 8 am on 4 May in the middle of the local election results, the Care Minister, who is in her place, said:

“It is an independent document and the University of Bristol decided when it was going to be published. It was published on Friday without permission from or any kind of communication with the Department of Health and Social Care.”—[Official Report, 8 May 2018; Vol. 640, c. 553.]

The Minister has now written to me to say that she has been misinformed and that she now admits that NHS England had discussed the timing of the publication and had agreed the date. Also, in a statement yesterday, the learning disabilities review team said:

“All communication about the report, prior to and subsequent to its publication, was directed by NHS England, as was the date of its publication.”

The Minister also admits that the Department of Health and Social Care was notified about the publication by NHS England.

The key point is that, in December 2016, the Secretary of State told the House that he was asking the learning disabilities mortality review programme to provide annual reports to the Department of Health on its findings. The Minister is now saying that the Department was notified about the report only on an unofficial basis. Why was such an important report, dated December 2017, not published until 2018? The Care Minister says she was misinformed by her officials. Is the Secretary of State in charge of this Department or is he not?

In the other place, the Health Minister said of the publication of the review report:

“I agree with her that the timing was less than ideal...I agree it was not done as it should have been”.—[Official Report, House of Lords, 9 May 2018; Vol. 791, c. 207.]

We have not had an apology from a Health Minister on this matter in this House, but it was this House that was misinformed. Let us remember that the people most affected by this mess are the family members of the over 1,300 people with learning disabilities whose early deaths the Government should be taking more seriously.

Mr Deputy Speaker, have you been notified that the Secretary of State wants to explain himself to the House about this mess and to issue an apology to the bereaved families, or does the Minister want to do so now?

What I would say is I do know a correction is printed today from the Minister responsible, and it is on the record. I do not know whether the Minister wishes to come in at this stage. No? I have certainly not been given any indication from the Secretary of State that they are coming forward. What I would say is that it is on the record, and if there needs to be a further correction, I am sure that will be taken on board.