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Estimating how many deaths of people with learning disabilities in England could be prevented by better medical care

Gyles Glover (Consultant in Public Health at the Learning Disabilities Observatory, Wolfson Research Institute, Stockton on Tees, UK)
Eric Emerson (Professor of Disability and Health Research at the Centre for Disability Research, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, UK)

Tizard Learning Disability Review

ISSN: 1359-5474

Article publication date: 5 July 2013




The purpose of this paper is to use the findings of the Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities, to estimate the likely annual number of deaths of people with learning disabilities in England that would be amenable to healthcare, or both amenable and preventable.


The study uses two scaling approaches, one based on age profiles of the population of the study area and of the country, the other on General Practice Quality and Outcome Framework (QOF) learning disability register statistics.


National estimates of the annual number of deaths either amenable to healthcare or both amenable and preventable were 1,413 using the age‐based scaling approach and 1,238 using the QOF‐based approach. The two estimates are reasonably close, and represent about three and a half people a day or 25 a week.


The likely accuracy of the estimates depends on how representative of the country the study area is. There are reasons for thinking that people with learning disability are, if anything, likely to be more accurately recognised and better treated there. Both influences would have the effect of reducing national estimates using the authors’ methods. This suggests they should be seen as a minimum.



Glover, G. and Emerson, E. (2013), "Estimating how many deaths of people with learning disabilities in England could be prevented by better medical care", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 146-149.



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