Patients with learning disabilities should receive better medical care


A father of a severely disabled man claims his son "died an agonizing and unnecessary death" because of the shortcomings of his health care.

Tom Wakefield had severe learning disabilities and sadly died aged 19 of pneumonia and reflux problems. His father Paul Wakefield commented that the errors committed by the NHS were "torture" for the family.

Mr Wakefield watched his son go through severe stomach pain resulting in weight loss for over 18 months, whilst the medics failed to spot and generally ignored the signs that things were not right.

The medics said Tom's anguished reactions were merely bad behaviour and not down to pain.

Following Tom's death a report was carried out by the Health Service and Local Government Ombudsman. Mr Wakefield commented that "if unchallenged, parts of the report would have failed Tom Wakefield, and these events will continue to happen to others just like him".

Gloucestershire County Council, NHS Gloucestershire, NHS Foundation Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have apologised for the substandard medical care that Tom received.

Jan Stubbings, NHS Gloucestershire chief executive, commented: "we are not complacent as we recognise that there is more we need to do".

The report said that the care for people with learning disabilities showed many "significant and distressing failures" across the NHS and Councils. The 2 Ombudsmen have called for an urgent review of health and social care for those with learning disabilities to ensure they receive better care in the future.

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