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Should the government prioritise disabled people in vaccine roll-out and non-coronavirus treatment?

Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 4,010

Scope community team

Scope's Chair, Robin Millar, has written a letter urging Matt Hancock to prioritise disabled people in the coronavirus vaccine roll-out, as well as prioritise their access to non-coronavirus health screening and treatment.

You can read the letter here, but I've also copied the text below:
Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing to you in my role as Chair of the disability equality charity Scope to ask you to do two simple things which could prevent thousands of young disabled people from dying needlessly.

Will you, as a matter of urgency, prioritise disabled people in the roll-out of any vaccine and in the access to non-Covid-19 health screening and treatment. It’s necessary to do both these simple things to prevent the avoidable deaths of thousands of disabled young people and to improve the life expectancy of hundreds of thousands of others.

At Scope we welcome today’s news that a vaccine has been approved and that the JCVI is revising the priority list for the vaccine’s rollout. However, we are concerned that there are a number of groups who are at considerable risk and who merit further attention.

Half of all deaths from Covid-19 in the UK in the under 65s were disabled people. On top of this, Public Health England’s recent report into the impact of Covid-19 on those with a learning disability found this group are 6 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the general population. A lost future for each of them, a tragedy for their families, and a lost opportunity for diversity and inclusion for all of us.

On the urgent matter of access to health care, disabled people face a compounding of risk when a second health issue is joined to a disability. There is a disproportionate risk of serious illness and death if disabled people cannot access healthcare to address or prevent non-Coronavirus related health conditions.

ONS research highlights that 43 per cent of disabled people state that Coronavirus has affected their access to healthcare for non-Coronavirus related issues, compared to 20 per cent of the general population. Of these, 40 per cent of disabled people say their health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic as a result of this reduced access.

Disabled people tell Scope that access to routine treatments have been delayed or cancelled over the past 7 months. And many have struggled to access prescriptions and medicine since the pandemic began.

On the grounds of the above evidence, we believe Government and the JCVI must prioritise access to vaccines for disabled people with high support needs and for younger disabled people as well as prioritise all disabled people for access to screening and treatment of other serious conditions.

Scope would be most willing to meet with your officials to discuss further.

Yours Sincerely,

Robin Millar

Chair
Scope

Do you think disabled people should be prioritised in the coronavirus vaccine roll-out? Do you think enough is being done to ensure that disabled people get the non-coronavirus related treatment and screening they need? 

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Replies

  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 3,718 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm afraid the short answer is no i don't, however having said that I think the whole scheme is flawed, personally i would like them to start at 40 year olds then work upwards and downwards, catching all those who are vulnerable/disabled as they go along.
    We have a friend who is 84, he is fit and well and hasn't been out of the house since the first lockdown, why should he be amongst the first to get the vaccine?
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • feirfeir Member Posts: 396 Pioneering
    I've struggled to contact my GP when it's open but when it's shut and another clinic is running things i usually manage to get through and sorted out that day. And my chemist sorts out prescriptions for me,i organised this years ago when i kept forgetting to sort them out myself and pick them up when they were sorted. Not needed any appointments personally but know that people are missing out on treatments because of the virus.

    I think those who work with the vulnerable should get the vaccine first, if anything happens to them then the rest of us who rely on them are stuffed anyway.

    I don't think treatments should have stopped over this time period, not sure why they did that but it shows the health care system could do with some new things being implemented so that a crisis doesn't make things worse for those unaffected by the virus. Over the phone or on video consultations are great for me as i can't walk much and so don't need to struggle to get out and about, would love to see this continue when things go back to 'normal'.
  • chiariedschiarieds Member Posts: 7,915 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm rather with @woodbine on this......I feel it depends on the disability. Not that I like to say/feel that I'm disabled, but I would fall into a 'disabled' category. However, just because I'm in pain the moment I'm upright every day doesn't mean my health is compromised, unlike those who are immunosuppressed. So, even if disabled, if you're otherwise healthy, & irrespective of age, I don't feel every disabled person should be prioritised.
    Perhaps after NHS staff in hospitals & those that work in our local communities, truly 'vulnerable' disabled people, carers looking after their children or elderly relatives, then perhaps a consideration, from a personal point of view, to those that work in all aspects of food retail (& other essential services such as pharmacies), as we'd be a bit lost without them, & they put themselves at risk dealing with many customers too.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 1,651 Listener
    I'm 44, disabled and have recently had Type 2 Diabetes, therefore I'm classed as "at risk" and should be one of the first in line for the Corona jab IMO.

  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 3,718 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm 44, disabled and have recently had Type 2 Diabetes, therefore I'm classed as "at risk" and should be one of the first in line for the Corona jab IMO.

    It would be dangerous to turn this into a disability competition an is "I'm more disabled than you, no I am etc etc" I've had type 2 diabetes for a decade now and would never consider that a disability.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 1,651 Listener
    woodbine said:
    I'm 44, disabled and have recently had Type 2 Diabetes, therefore I'm classed as "at risk" and should be one of the first in line for the Corona jab IMO.

    It would be dangerous to turn this into a disability competition an is "I'm more disabled than you, no I am etc etc" I've had type 2 diabetes for a decade now and would never consider that a disability.
    Fair comment, but I am considered "vulnerable" so I still reckon I should be one of the first in line.

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