Responding to today’s ONS data on COVID-19 related deaths by disability status in England (24 Jan to 20 Nov 2020), Mehrunisha Suleman, Senior Research Fellow at the Health Foundation, said:
‘COVID-19 has had an unequal impact on disabled people who have been among the hardest hit in terms of deaths from the virus. Worryingly, today’s data confirms this trend, showing that 6 out of 10 people who have died with COVID-19 are disabled.
‘Today’s figures clearly show that current measures to protect disabled people are not enough and that there is an urgent need for more and better support. Disabled people are more likely to have one or more long-term health conditions, which means they are at greater risk of suffering severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.
‘However, as well as protecting disabled people from exposure to the virus, measures must account for the potential negative effects of lockdown and shielding. A significant number report that, due to lockdown, their health care needs are not being fully met or that they had treatment cancelled or delayed. Further action should include careful review of the support that is available to disabled people so they can access the care and essential services they need at home. It is also crucial that employment policy ensures that more disabled people get the support they need to work from home.
‘The high number of COVID-19 deaths among disabled people ultimately reflects wider failures in how the UK supports those who are vulnerable. Addressing this will require the government to address the major and long-standing inequalities that the pandemic has highlighted.’