Monday 12 January 2009

Time for a change of mind at Mencap

Mencap, which describes itself as the voice of learning disability, says that Britain's state health service is failing people with mental impairments. They write: "People with a learning disability get unequal healthcare. This is leading to people dying when their lives could have been saved." Now we learn that a hospital in southern England has apologised after Mr Martin Ryan (aged 43, pictured) who had Down's syndrome was left to starve to death.

Mencap is right to be concerned and I hope that the tragic occurrences which its report describes will cause it to reconsider its support for the Mental Capacity Act. This law enshrines lethal discrimination against the disabled and vulnerable. Things can only get better once we have that act repealed or significantly amended. Mencap needs to understand that the Mental Capacity Act is the problem under which food and fluids can be withdrawn with the intention of ending the patient’s life.