One of the UK’s leading care associations, the Surrey Care Association, has criticised the Government for failing to prioritise those with learning difficulties during the vaccine rollout.
The LD community is impacted by unique vulnerabilities, and the association believes the Government has failed to take these into account when looking to prioritise at risk groups.
“The Government failure to prioritise vaccination for people with learning disabilities was an extremely ill-thought-out decision. Research shows that those with learning disabilities are at significantly greater risk from COVID-19 than others. What the Government has failed to recognise is that people are at risk, not just because of their underlying conditions, but because of the way they live. If you are someone who needs personal care you might have a dozen different staff in close contact with you in any given week – greatly increasing risk of transmission. The Government also failed to recognise that people with severe learning disabilities do not always understand social distancing, infection control or the need for PPE, another aspect that leaves them enormously vulnerable.”
He continued: “The consequence of this policy within Peak15 is that we have had two 6-bedded services hit crisis levels since Christmas, where almost all people and staff have contracted COVID-19. Given their unique arrangements, it goes through small LD services like wildfire – and we have had one death as a result.”
He added: “The good news is that many GPs have ignored the Government’s failings, instead opting to make independent decisions to prioritise those with LD. This means, thankfully, that more than 75% of the people we support have been vaccinated. However, there are still three services of ours where GPs will not vaccinate – and this is a direct result of poor Government decision making.”
David Holmes concluded: “We urge the Government to take steps to ensure that those with learning difficulties are given the appropriate level of focus in the vaccine rollout. They’re at very high risk and the Government needs to recognise that fact and act accordingly.”