You may remember a few weeks ago (30th January to be precise) I addressed the poor standard of health care for people with learning difficulties. Well you won’t be surprised to hear that The Health Service and Local Government Ombudsmen has directly linked the poor care of two Disabled people to their eventual deaths.
The Ombudsmen had looked into complaints made by the charity Mencap representing families of the six Disabled people who died between 2003 and 2005.
They found one Disabled man died as a result of failings in his care, while a fourth death could have been avoided. It also said the failings in the care of two more were due to the fact that "they had learning disabilities".
The report found failings by hospitals, local health bosses, the official NHS regulator and social care services provided by councils, although none of the complaints against GPs were upheld.
Ann Abraham, the Health Service Ombudsman, said: "The recurrence of complaints across different agencies leads us to believe that the quality of care in the NHS and social services for people with learning disabilities is at best patchy and at worst an indictment of our society."
The Ombudsmen added that there was sufficient policy and guidance available, but agencies were not following it and, as a result, were in breach of human rights and disability discrimination laws.
The government said it was taking steps to address the problems. Oh that’s alright then!
Let’s take a few minutes to remember our Disabled brothers and sister who died.
Mark Cannon - The 30-year-old died eight weeks after being admitted to hospital with a broken leg.
Martin Ryan - Died several weeks after having stroke. While in hospital, the 43-year-old went 26 days without being fed.
Emma Kemp - The 26-year-old died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.
Tom Wakefield - The 20-year-old died of pneumonia.
Ted Hughes - The 61-year-old died the day after being released from hospital after an operation.
Warren Cox - Died 90 minutes after being admitted to hospital with stomach pains.
Care Services Minister, Phil Hope announced that twenty-five "user-led" organisations, which include Southampton Centre for Independent Living, Disability Action in Islington and Disability Cornwall will have access to £1 million as part of the ‘Action and Learning Sites’ programme. Having done work for all three organisations I know that they’ll put this extra money to good use.
All of the disability organisations chosen all promote independent living and provide a range of services including information, advocacy and advice as well as support in using the direct payments scheme.
A further £100,000 will be shared across the
Thirteen new "user-led" organisations from across the country will also receive a share of £800,000 (£13,000 each) under wave two of the project announced in March last year.
Speaking at the User-Led Organisation Action and Learning Site Network conference in London, Phil Hope told delegates: "Organisations run by people with disabilities … (why do they insist on still calling us that) … play a vital role in delivering high-quality, personalised services . He added that he wanted to see more organisations led by Disabled people to provide services and support to other Disabled people (I like this guy!).
So at least not all of the funding is being sucked into the other government projects, some of it’s going where it really counts. But then when you compare this £1.1 million against the countless billions financing the wars and the massive public relation scam known as the 2012 Olympics, the £40,000 that each of the 25 user-led groups will be getting is really just a drop in the ocean isn’t it.
It’s a good start though Phil, so keep it coming my man.
Having stated that he wants to work towards making his city the access capital of the world (in time for the 2012 Olympics) it’s now clear that Mayor of London Boris Johnson was referring to making the capital more accessible for motorists.
He’s planning to introduced ‘speedy street crossings’ which means that crossing times for pedestrians will be cut by up to six seconds along with a reduced number of green man phases. This will mean that even reasonably fit pedestrians will have to practically run to get to the opposite kerb in time. Young children, older people, Disabled people and anyone else whose pace is somewhat slower will be lucky to make it to the middle of the road before the lights change!
Of course we shouldn’t be too surprised as this is the man who is advocating spending some £30m to implement a so called ‘shared-surface street’ in Exhibition Road, London. In this concept there are no kerbs, and the road and pavement are built at the same level offering no clue to blind and partially sighted people about when they are about to step into a trafficked area. His intention he claims is to “give pedestrians greater priority of movement”. Oh yeh!
I thought that this guy had a team of people who would have done an impact assessment on these plans, or at the very least have pointed out to him his responsibilities under the Disability Equality Duty?
No, hang on a minute. It was Ken who employed Disabled access advisors wasn’t it?!
Well don’t look at me – I didn’t vote for him!
OK boys and girls, due to public demand (well, the crip public anyway!) I've just posted a new book about the sexuality of Disabled people onto my web site. The link to the info page is: www.daveluptoncartoons.co.uk/crippen/news.html
The idea for the book has been rumbling away on the back burner for some time and I've gradually added cartoons and text to the rough outline as different thoughts arise. Not that it's the only thing I'm thinking of you understand, although when you get to my age it's mostly about the thinking with far less action!
Be warned, the book contains adult material, so if you're of a sensitive disposition it might be better to give this one a miss and go for one of the more conventional books available on the subject (what do you mean there aren't any?!).
As usual with this new book I've kept the cost down to a fiver to just cover my overheads and leave enough left over for a coffee! It's available as a downloadable PDF file through the PayPal/PayLoadz scheme. Don't worry if you don't have a PayPal account. It's very easy to set up (just follow the on-line instructions) and once you have it, it's the safest way to transfer funds on the internet in my opinion.
For our friends out there who use text reading software, I'm currently working on a full text version of all of my books, including this latest one which I'll be supplying upon request and free of charge.
Many of the anti-charity cartoons that I’ve created over the past couple of decades have tended to hit out at the Leonard Cheshire Foundation (LCF) and I’m often asked why that is.
Where to begin? Well, apart from the fact that I’ve known quite a few people who have been ‘incarcerated’ (their description) in LCF homes and have told me about the lack of any mechanism that allows for them to have a say in the running of the establishments, and therefore their lives, I also take exception to an organisation that has learned how to talk the Social Model understanding of disability without actually implementing it in any meaningful way.
I know that LCF will challenge this statement and say that things have now changed, but not from what I’ve heard. It wasn’t so long ago that an employment survey of charities discovered that out of the 7,000 odd people that were employed by LCF only 0.8% were Disabled people. Interestingly I’ve not been able to establish how many Disabled people are now employed by the charity although I suspect that the figure hasn’t changed all that much.
They also had a very suspect beginning back in 1948 when the so called ‘war hero’ Leonard Cheshire set up his first place in a dilapidated old property called Le Court in Hampshire. It’s alleged that they’re still providing their so-called service in places that are ‘unfit for purpose’. Indeed one of their own Directors is on record as stating that over 80% of the property LCF used fell within this category.
In 2000 Paul Darke launched a web site called Leonard-cheshire.com. The site contained a lot of info about the organisation that he’d gathered whilst working for them. Information about directors and senior staff being covered by private medical insurance whilst residents waited for treatment under the NHS; over four million pounds a year being spent on public relations and advertising; staff weekend get-togethers costing over ten thousand pounds a time … The charities reaction to this flow of information was to spend even more of tax payers money and take expensive legal action in order to have the site shut down.
While LCF continues to put all of their effort into segregating Disabled people from mainstream society I will continue to produce cartoons that challenge them.
If you want to find out more about this organisation and how other Disabled people feel about them I would recommend looking at the review by Dr Laurence Clark entitled ‘Leonard Cheshire versus The Disabled People’s Movement’. It’s available as a free PDF downloadable file on the disability archive web site. Here’s the link:
One of the things that really gets up my nose is when people assume that just because I’m Disabled, I must therefore enjoy being with other Disabled people and will get on with them like a house on fire.
A visually impaired
The problem it appears is that his Social Services have decided to make life at home easier for him. They’ve come up with a way to stop him from bumping into furniture and his other personal bits and pieces that lay around the house. They’re going to throw it away!
Naturally our Disabled friend is a bit distressed to hear of this solution, especially as it would appear that he’s not going to have much of a say in what is thrown out. This is where the call for an advocate has gone out. Obviously, time is of the essence so, if you or someone you know is available to support him when he meets up with the Social Services house clearing team, please let him know by emailing - firstname.lastname@example.org
I've just received the sad news that Ken Lumb, a great mate and Editor of the Manchester Coalition magazine died recently in hospital. Ken was a tireless worker within the Disabled people's movement and will be missed by us all. A celebration of his life is being held at Manchester Coalition's HQ on Tuesday 10th March.