Mencap urge integrated care systems (ICSs) across England to sign their treat me well pledge to tackle health inequalities

As BBC Panorama investigate the shocking health inequalities faced by people with a learning disability, Mencap are calling on ICS leaders to show their commitment by signing their Treat Me Well pledge

Mencap, the UK’s leading learning disability charity, today urge Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) across England to ensure that the needs of people with a learning disability are at the forefront as they set priorities for their regions – by signing Mencap’s Treat Me Well pledge.

As tonight’s sobering BBC Panorama investigation ‘Will the NHS Care for Me?’ shows, people with a learning disability face significant barriers to healthcare and shockingly high levels of health inequality. Presented by Mencap Ambassador and Line of Duty actor, Tommy Jessop, the episode explores why people with a learning disability are more than twice as likely to die from avoidable causes than the rest of the population and hears from families who have tragically lost loved ones because they were not prioritised for medical care, simply because of their learning disability.

As the recent Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) report shows, devastating health inequalities create a situation where men and women with a learning disability die over 20 years earlier than the general population [i]. Furthermore, it is estimated that 1,200 people die avoidably every year when timely access to good quality healthcare could have saved them [ii].

As ICSs start their journey to deliver joined up, person-centred care, Mencap is calling on leaders in each system to publicly show their commitment to deliver the health and care support that is needed by people with a learning disability and sign Mencap’s Treat Me Well pledge.

Edel Harris OBE, Chief Executive of learning disability charity Mencap, said: “I’d like to thank the BBC and Panorama for highlighting the huge inequalities that people with a learning disability often face when accessing healthcare, which Mencap first highlighted 15 years ago in our 2007 report, ‘Death by Indifference’. We were pleased to assist in the making of the programme. Tragically, the stories told in tonight’s Panorama are not isolated – research shows that people with a learning disability continue to face persistent inequalities and die decades younger than the general population. More needs to be done.

“I urge the newly formed Integrated Care System Boards to sign the Treat Me Well Pledge and take urgent action to deliver the change desperately needed to prevent future avoidable deaths.

“People with a learning disability have a right to access good quality and timely care that meets their needs and helps support them to live happy and healthy lives. I call on those involved in setting the new integrated plans to start making a change in their communities.”

Ismail Kaji, Parliamentary & Government Engagement Officer at learning disability charity Mencap, said: “As a person with a learning disability, it saddens me that so many people like us still face a lack of care and serious health inequalities. Sadly, it isn’t surprising.

“New research shows that over 3,000 people with a learning disability died last year, with nearly half dying from avoidable causes. This number is really shocking. I urge the ICSs to make a commitment and sign Mencap’s pledge to improve the wellbeing of millions of people with a learning disability through their partnerships with the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector. This can help save lives.”

ICSs are partnerships that bring together NHS organisations, local authorities and others to take collective responsibility for planning services, improving health and reducing inequalities across geographical areas. Currently, there are 42 ICSs across England, covering a population of around 500,000 to 3 million people.

Mencap are inviting you to make a public commitment to improving the wellbeing of people with a learning disability and ensuring that their experiences and needs are not forgotten, by signing Mencap’s Treat Me Well pledge at