Care England has called for people with a learning disability to be prioritised in the public health response to Covid-19.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has accentuated the need for urgent action to address the long-standing health inequalities experienced by individuals with a learning disability. The dark picture painted by emerging research, namely the Public Health England (PHE) report published on 12 November, only increases the pertinence of placing people with a learning disability, as well as the people who support them, at the front of queue to receive the forthcoming Covid-19 vaccination.”
The report from PHE detailed how deaths from Covid-19 amongst those with learning disabilities was up to six times higher than the rate experienced by the general population in the first wave of the pandemic.
This report underscored previous research, such as the annual Learning Disability Mortality Review, which has consistently reported health inequalities and discrimination that individuals with a learning disability experience which consequently leads to negative health outcomes and premature mortality. This message was again highlighted at Monday’s Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee meeting on Coronavirus Lessons Learnt.
Much of this picture is preventable. This is why Care England has co-signed a letter with Learning Disability England, and other national bodies, to the Joint Vaccination Immunisation Committee calling for urgent addressal of these health inequalities as well as the prioritisation of this group for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Martin Green continues:
“We must learn lessons from the first wave of the pandemic. Prioritising these individuals for the Covid-19 vaccine and other public health measures will help safeguard some of society’s most vulnerable.”