An academic from Kingston University (KU) led a discussion about end of life care and learning disabilities at the House of Lords last week.

Professor Tuffrey-Wijne, the world's first researcher to conduct studies into palliative care for people with learning disabilities, spoke with lawmakers and leading thinkers at the Death, Dying and Learning Disability lecture in the Houses of Parliament.

She told them that the improvement in end-of-life care given to people with learning disabilities was desperately needed.

Discussing current issues with hospice care for people with learning disabilities, Ms Tuffrey-Wijne said that palliative carers can find it tough to communicate difficult or troubling news to those with terminal illness who also have learning disabilities.

"People can't be involved with decisions about their own life and care if they don't know what is going on.

"Carers and health and social workers need to address this and not shield people from the truth," Ms Tuffrey-Wijne said.

The former nurse added that another issue was people being unable to identify when a person with learning disabilities is nearing the end of their life.

"While statistics show around two per cent of people admitted to hospices should have some of form of learning disability, the actual figure of patients having one is far less," she said.

"That's why some of my research has focused on identifying the signs, how to communicate with people who have complex learning disabilities and how to break bad news to them."

The KU professor was asked to deliver the discussion at the House of Lords after the chamber was recently read the Access to Palliative Care Bill, which aims to expand access to support services for those in palliative care.

The government hopes to make learning disability training mandatory for healthcare workers.

Ms Tuffrey-Wijne said the aims of the bill were commendable but urged its adoption to be followed by concrete action.

"After a decade of recommendations and enquiries into premature deaths, and a lack of access to healthcare, there are still so many people having such a poor experience and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency," she said.

One way this could be addressed regarding patients with learning disabilities would be to encourage those with learning disabilities to get more directly involved in research, Ms Tuffrey-Wijne said.